Asymmetric binding of transferrin receptor to parvovirus capsids

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 17;104(16):6585-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0701574104. Epub 2007 Apr 9.


Although many viruses are icosahedral when they initially bind to one or more receptor molecules on the cell surface, such an interaction is asymmetric, probably causing a breakdown in the symmetry and conformation of the original infecting virion in preparation for membrane penetration and release of the viral genome. Cryoelectron microscopy and biochemical analyses show that transferrin receptor, the cellular receptor for canine parvovirus, can bind to only one or a few of the 60 icosahedrally equivalent sites on the virion, indicating that either canine parvovirus has inherent asymmetry or binding of receptor induces asymmetry. The asymmetry of receptor binding to canine parvovirus is reminiscent of the special portal in tailed bacteriophages and some large, icosahedral viruses. Asymmetric interactions of icosahedral viruses with their hosts might be a more common phenomenon than previously thought and may have been obscured by averaging in previous crystallographic and electron microscopic structure determinations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Capsid / chemistry*
  • Capsid / metabolism*
  • Cats
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dogs
  • Feline Panleukopenia Virus / chemistry
  • Feline Panleukopenia Virus / metabolism
  • Feline Panleukopenia Virus / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Parvovirus, Canine / chemistry*
  • Parvovirus, Canine / metabolism*
  • Parvovirus, Canine / ultrastructure
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Transferrin / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Transferrin / genetics
  • Receptors, Transferrin / metabolism*
  • Spodoptera
  • Virion / chemistry
  • Virion / metabolism


  • Receptors, Transferrin

Associated data

  • PDB/2NSU