Crystal Structure of the Pre-fusion Nipah Virus Fusion Glycoprotein Reveals a Novel Hexamer-of-Trimers Assembly

PLoS Pathog. 2015 Dec 8;11(12):e1005322. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005322. eCollection 2015 Dec.


Nipah virus (NiV) is a paramyxovirus that infects host cells through the coordinated efforts of two envelope glycoproteins. The G glycoprotein attaches to cell receptors, triggering the fusion (F) glycoprotein to execute membrane fusion. Here we report the first crystal structure of the pre-fusion form of the NiV-F glycoprotein ectodomain. Interestingly this structure also revealed a hexamer-of-trimers encircling a central axis. Electron tomography of Nipah virus-like particles supported the hexameric pre-fusion model, and biochemical analyses supported the hexamer-of-trimers F assembly in solution. Importantly, structure-assisted site-directed mutagenesis of the interfaces between F trimers highlighted the functional relevance of the hexameric assembly. Shown here, in both cell-cell fusion and virus-cell fusion systems, our results suggested that this hexamer-of-trimers assembly was important during fusion pore formation. We propose that this assembly would stabilize the pre-fusion F conformation prior to cell attachment and facilitate the coordinated transition to a post-fusion conformation of all six F trimers upon triggering of a single trimer. Together, our data reveal a novel and functional pre-fusion architecture of a paramyxoviral fusion glycoprotein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Henipavirus Infections / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Nipah Virus / chemistry*
  • Nipah Virus / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Internalization*


  • F protein, Nipah virus
  • Viral Envelope Proteins