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Most viruses use a hollow protein shell, the capsid, to enclose the viral genome. Virus capsids are large, symmetric oligomers made of many copies of one or a few types of protein subunits. Self-assembly of a viral capsid is a complex oligomerization process that proceeds along a pathway regulated by ordered interactions between the participating protein subunits, and that involves a series of (usually transient) assembly intermediates. Assembly of many virus capsids requires the assistance of scaffolding proteins or the viral nucleic acid, which interact with the capsid subunits to promote and direct the process. Once assembled, many capsids undergo a maturation reaction that involves covalent modification and/or conformational rearrangements, which may increase the stability of the particle. The final, mature capsid is a relatively robust protein complex able to protect the viral genome from physicochemical aggressions; however, it is also a metastable, dynamic structure poised to undergo controlled conformational transitions required to perform biologically critical functions during virus entry into cells, intracellular trafficking, and viral genome uncoating. This article provides an updated general overview on structural, biophysical and biochemical aspects of the assembly, stability and dynamics of virus capsids. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Mauricio G Mateu. Assembly, stability and dynamics of virus capsids. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics. 2013 Mar;531(1-2):65-79

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PMID: 23142681

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