New Insights Into the Mechanism of Virus-Induced Membrane Fusion

Trends Biochem Sci. 2002 Apr;27(4):183-90. doi: 10.1016/s0968-0004(01)02050-3.


Infection by enveloped viruses requires fusion between the viral and cellular membranes, a process mediated by specific viral envelope glycoproteins. Information from studies with whole viruses, as well as protein dissection, has suggested that the fusion glycoprotein (F) from Paramyxoviridae, a family that includes major human pathogens, has two hydrophobic segments, termed fusion peptides. These peptides are directly responsible for the membrane fusion event. The recently determined three-dimensional structure of the pre-fusion conformation of the F protein supported these predictions and enabled the formulation of: (1) a detailed model for the initial interaction between F and the target membrane, (2) a new model for Paramyxovirus-induced membrane fusion that can be extended to other viral families, and (3) a novel strategy for developing better inhibitors of paramyxovirus infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Paramyxoviridae / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / physiology


  • Viral Fusion Proteins