Brief Review

Archives of Virology

, Volume 146, Issue 12, pp 2263-2274

First online:

Structural dynamics, an intrinsic property of viral capsids

  • J. WitzAffiliated with Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du CNRS, Strasbourg, France
  • , F. BrownAffiliated with Plum Island Animal Disease Center, US Department of Agriculture, Greenport, New York, U.S.A.

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 In this review, we emphasize that high-resolution models of the structures of small plant and animal viruses obtained by X-ray crystallography are static and insufficient to describe the behavior of these virions. Viral capsids are highly flexible and may undergo conformational changes under physiological conditions without collapse of the virions. This flexibility plays a key role in the process of infection.