Nature communications

A stochastic assembly model for Nipah virus revealed by super-resolution microscopy.

PMID 30076303


Understanding virus assembly mechanisms is important for developing therapeutic interventions. Nipah virus (NiV) is of interest because of its high mortality rate and efficient human-human transmissions. The current model for most enveloped viruses suggests that matrix proteins (M) recruit attachment glycoproteins (G) and fusion glycoproteins (F) to the assembly site at the plasma membrane. Here we report an assembly model that differs in many aspects from the current one. Examining NiV proteins on the cell plasma membrane using super-resolution microscopy reveals that clusters of F and G are randomly distributed on the plasma membrane regardless of the presence or absence of M. Our data suggests a model in which the M molecules assemble at the plasma membrane to form virus-like particles (VLPs), while the incorporation of F and G into the nascent VLPs is stochastic.