Archives of Virology

, Volume 109, Issue 3–4, pp 153–172 | Cite as

Structure-function relationships of icosahedral plant viruses

  • H. S. Savithri
  • S. Suryanarayana
  • M. R. N. Murthy
Brief Review


X-ray diffraction studies on single crystals of a few viruses have led to the elucidation of their three dimensional structure at near atomic resolution. Both the tertiary structure of the coat protein subunit and the quaternary organization of the icosahedral capsid in these viruses are remarkably similar. These studies have led to a critical re-examination of the structural principles in the architecture of isometric viruses and suggestions of alternative mechanisms of assembly. Apart from their role in the assembly of the virus particle, the coat proteins of certian viruses have been shown to inhibit the replication of the cognate RNA leading to cross-protection. The coat protein amino acid sequence and the genomic sequence of several spherical plant RNA viruses have been determined in the last decade. Experimental data on the mechanisms of uncoating, gene expression and replication of several classes of viruses have also become available. The function of the non-structural proteins of some viruses have been determined. This rapid progress has provided a wealth of information on several key steps in the life cycle of RNA viruses. The function of the viral coat protein, capsid architecture, assembly and disassembly and replication of isometric RNA plant viruses are discussed in the light of this accumulated knowledge.


Coat Protein Plant Virus Viral Coat Viral Coat Protein Structural Principle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. S. Savithri
    • 1
  • S. Suryanarayana
    • 1
  • M. R. N. Murthy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Molecular Biophysics UnitIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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