Image reconstruction reveals the complex molecular organization of adenovirus

Cell. 1991 Oct 4;67(1):145-54. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(91)90578-m.


The three-dimensional structure of adenovirus has been determined by image reconstruction from cryo-electron micrographs. Comparison with the high resolution X-ray crystal structure of hexon, the major capsid protein, enabled an unusually detailed interpretation of the density map and confirmed the validity of the reconstruction. The hexon packing in the capsid shows more extensive intermolecular interfaces between facets than previously proposed. The reconstruction provides the first three-dimensional visualization of the vertex proteins, including the penton base and its associated protruding fiber. Three minor capsid proteins that stabilize and modulate capsomer interactions are revealed. One of these components stabilizes the group-of-nine hexons in the center of each facet and the other two bridge hexons in adjacent facets. The strategic positions of these proteins highlight the importance of cementing proteins in stabilizing a complex assembly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviruses, Human / ultrastructure*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron / methods
  • Models, Structural
  • Virion / ultrastructure*
  • X-Ray Diffraction / methods