Dengue structure differs at the temperatures of its human and mosquito hosts

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23;110(17):6795-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304300110. Epub 2013 Apr 8.


We report on a conformational transition of dengue virus when changing the temperature from that present in its mosquito vectors to that of its human host. Using cryoelectron microscopy, we show that although the virus has a smooth surface, a diameter of ∼500 Å, and little exposed membrane at room temperature, the virions have a bumpy appearance with a diameter of ∼550 Å and some exposed membrane at 37 °C. The bumpy structure at 37 °C was found to be similar to the previously predicted structure of an intermediate between the smooth mature and fusogenic forms. As humans have a body temperature of 37 °C, the bumpy form of the virus would be the form present in humans. Thus, optimal dengue virus vaccines should induce antibodies that preferentially recognize epitopes exposed on the bumpy form of the virus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Culicidae / physiology
  • Culicidae / virology*
  • Dengue Virus*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Virion / ultrastructure*


  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • E protein TH Sman, Dengue virus

Associated data

  • PDB/3J35