Virus maturation

Annu Rev Biophys. 2012;41:473-96. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biophys-042910-155407. Epub 2012 Feb 23.


We examine virus maturation of selected nonenveloped and enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses, retroviruses, bacteriophages, and herpesviruses. Processes associated with maturation in the RNA viruses range from subtle (nodaviruses and picornaviruses) to dramatic (tetraviruses and togaviruses). The elaborate assembly and maturation pathway of HIV is discussed in contrast to the less sophisticated but highly efficient processes associated with togaviruses. Bacteriophage assembly and maturation are discussed in general terms, with specific examples chosen for emphasis. Finally the herpesviruses are compared with bacteriophages. The data support divergent evolution of nodaviruses, picornaviruses, and tetraviruses from a common ancestor and divergent evolution of alphaviruses and flaviviruses from a common ancestor. Likewise, bacteriophages and herpesviruses almost certainly share a common ancestor in their evolution. Comparing all the viruses, we conclude that maturation is a convergent process that is required to solve conflicting requirements in biological dynamics and function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteriophages / chemistry
  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / metabolism
  • Biological Evolution
  • Humans
  • Virus Assembly
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena
  • Viruses / chemistry
  • Viruses / classification
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / metabolism*