Mechanisms of viral membrane fusion and its inhibition

Annu Rev Biochem. 2001;70:777-810. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.70.1.777.


Viral envelope glycoproteins promote viral infection by mediating the fusion of the viral membrane with the host-cell membrane. Structural and biochemical studies of two viral glycoproteins, influenza hemagglutinin and HIV-1 envelope protein, have led to a common model for viral entry. The fusion mechanism involves a transient conformational species that can be targeted by therapeutic strategies. This mechanism of infectivity is likely utilized by a wide variety of enveloped viruses for which similar therapeutic interventions should be possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Gene Products, env / metabolism
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp41 / drug effects
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp41 / metabolism
  • HIV Fusion Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Membrane Fusion / drug effects*
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Viruses / drug effects
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Gene Products, env
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp41
  • HIV Fusion Inhibitors
  • Viral Proteins