Pushing the Envelope: Dengue Viral Membrane Coaxed into Shape by Molecular Simulations.

Structure 24(8):1410 (2016) PMID 27396828

Dengue virus is a flavivirus responsible for millions of infections per year. Its surface contains a phospholipid bilayer, within which are embedded the envelope (E) and membrane (M) proteins, arranged with icosahedral geometry. Exposure to low pH triggers the E proteins to undergo conformational changes, which precede fusion with the host cell membrane and release of the viral genome. The flavivirus membrane exhibits significant local curvature and deformation, as revealed by cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM), but its precise structure and interactions with envelope components remain unclear. We now report simulations of the dengue viral particle that refine its envelope structure in unprecedented detail. Our final models are morphologically consistent with cryo-EM data, and reveal the structural basis for membrane curvature. Electrostatic interactions increased envelope complex stability; this coupling has potential functional significance in the context of the viral fusion mechanism and infective states. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2016.05.014