Exploring icosahedral virus structures with VIPER

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2005 Oct;3(10):809-17. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1283.


Virus structures are megadalton nucleoprotein complexes with an exceptional variety of protein-protein and protein-nucleic-acid interactions. Three-dimensional crystal structures of over 70 virus capsids, from more than 20 families and 30 different genera of viruses, have been solved to near-atomic resolution. The enormous amount of information contained in these structures is difficult to access, even for scientists trained in structural biology. Virus Particle Explorer (VIPER) is a web-based catalogue of structural information that describes the icosahedral virus particles. In addition to high-resolution crystal structures, VIPER has expanded to include virus structures obtained by cryo-electron microscopy (EM) techniques. The VIPER database is a powerful resource for virologists, microbiologists, virus crystallographers and EM researchers. This review describes how to use VIPER, using several examples to show the power of this resource for research and educational purposes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Capsid / chemistry*
  • Capsid / ultrastructure*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Databases, Protein
  • Genome, Viral
  • Models, Molecular
  • Viruses / chemistry
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / ultrastructure*