Geometric architecture of viruses

World Journal of Virology
Mohammad Khalid Parvez


In the current SARS-CoV-2 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the structural understanding of new emerging viruses in relation to developing effective treatment and interventions are very necessary. Viruses present remarkable differences in geometric shapes, sizes, molecular compositions and organizations. A detailed structural knowledge of a virion is essential for understanding the mechanisms of capsid assembly/disassembly, antigenicity, cell-receptor interaction, and designing therapeutic strategies. X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and molecular simulations have elucidated atomic-level structure of several viruses. In view of this, a recently determined crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid has revealed its architecture and self-assembly very similar to that of the SARS-CoV-1 and the Middle-East respiratory syndrome virus (MERS-CoV). In structure determination, capsid symmetry is an important factor greatly contributing to its stability and balance between the packaged genome and envelope. Since the capsid protein subunits are asymmetrical, the maximum number of inter-subunit interactions can be established only when they are arranged symmetrically. Therefore, a stable capsid must be in a perfect symmetry and...Continue Reading


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