Asymmetry in icosahedral viruses

Curr Opin Virol. 2019 Jun;36:67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2019.05.006. Epub 2019 Jun 28.


Although icosahedral viruses have obvious and highly symmetrical features, asymmetric structural elements are also present. Asymmetric features may be inherent since the genome and location of minor capsid proteins are typically incorporated without adhering to icosahedral symmetry. Asymmetry also develops during the virus life cycle in order to accomplish key functions such as genome packaging, release, and organization. However, resolving asymmetric features complicates image processing during single-particle cryoEM analysis. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding asymmetric structural features with specific examples drawn from members of picornaviridae, parvoviradae, microviradae, and leviviridae.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Capsid / chemistry
  • Capsid / ultrastructure
  • Capsid Proteins / chemistry*
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Genome, Viral
  • Models, Molecular
  • Virion / chemistry*
  • Virion / ultrastructure
  • Virus Assembly*
  • Viruses / chemistry*
  • Viruses / ultrastructure


  • Capsid Proteins