High flavivirus structural plasticity demonstrated by a non-spherical morphological variant

Nat Commun. 2020 Jun 19;11(1):3112. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16925-y.


Previous flavivirus (dengue and Zika viruses) studies showed largely spherical particles either with smooth or bumpy surfaces. Here, we demonstrate flavivirus particles have high structural plasticity by the induction of a non-spherical morphology at elevated temperatures: the club-shaped particle (clubSP), which contains a cylindrical tail and a disc-like head. Complex formation of DENV and ZIKV with Fab C10 stabilize the viruses allowing cryoEM structural determination to ~10 Å resolution. The caterpillar-shaped (catSP) Fab C10:ZIKV complex shows Fabs locking the E protein raft structure containing three E dimers. However, compared to the original spherical structure, the rafts have rotated relative to each other. The helical tail structure of Fab C10:DENV3 clubSP showed although the Fab locked an E protein dimer, the dimers have shifted laterally. Morphological diversity, including clubSP and the previously identified bumpy and smooth-surfaced spherical particles, may help flavivirus survival and immune evasion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aedes
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Dengue / immunology
  • Dengue / therapy
  • Dengue / virology
  • Dengue Vaccines / immunology
  • Dengue Virus / immunology
  • Dengue Virus / metabolism
  • Dengue Virus / ultrastructure*
  • Immune Evasion
  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments / metabolism
  • Mesocricetus
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Surface Properties
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Virus Attachment
  • Zika Virus / immunology
  • Zika Virus / metabolism
  • Zika Virus / ultrastructure*
  • Zika Virus Infection


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Dengue Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments
  • Viral Envelope Proteins