The coronavirus E protein is a small membrane protein that has an important role in the assembly of virions. Recent studies have indicated that the E protein has functions during infection beyond assembly, including in virus egress and in the host stress response. Additionally, the E protein has ion channel activity, interacts with host proteins, and may have multiple membrane topologies. The goal of this review is to highlight the properties and functions of the E protein, and speculate on how they may be related.
Keywords: Golgi complex; coronavirus assembly; envelope protein; ion channel; membrane protein topology.