Structure and function of respiratory syncytial virus surface glycoproteins

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013;372:83-104. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-38919-1_4.


The two major glycoproteins on the surface of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) virion, the attachment glycoprotein (G) and the fusion glycoprotein (F), control the initial phases of infection. G targets the ciliated cells of the airways, and F causes the virion membrane to fuse with the target cell membrane. The F protein is the major target for antiviral drug development, and both G and F glycoproteins are the antigens targeted by neutralizing antibodies induced by infection. In this chapter, we review the structure and function of the RSV surface glycoproteins, including recent X-ray crystallographic data of the F glycoprotein in its pre- and postfusion conformations, and discuss how this information informs antigen selection and vaccine development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Antiviral Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Cilia / immunology
  • Cilia / virology
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Virus / chemistry
  • Receptors, Virus / physiology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / chemistry*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / drug effects
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / immunology
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / physiology
  • Virion / chemistry
  • Virion / physiology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • F protein, human respiratory syncytial virus
  • G glycoprotein, Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines
  • Viral Fusion Proteins