Astroviruses are enterically transmitted viruses that cause infections in mammalian and avian species. Astroviruses are nonenveloped, icosahedral viruses comprised of a capsid protein shell and a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA genome. The capsid protein undergoes dramatic proteolytic processing both inside and outside of the host cell, resulting in a coordinated maturation process that affects cellular localization, virus structure, and infectivity. After maturation, the capsid protein controls the initial phases of virus infection, including virus attachment, endocytosis, and genome release into the host cell. The astrovirus capsid is the target of host antibodies including virus-neutralizing antibodies. The capsid protein also mediates the binding of host complement proteins and inhibits complement activation. Here, we will review our knowledge on the astrovirus capsid protein (CP), with particular attention to the recent structural, biochemical, and virological studies that have advanced our understanding of the astrovirus life cycle.
Keywords: antigen; astrovirus; capsid; structure; virus entry; virus exit.