The 9 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy map of Sindbis virus presented here provides structural information on the polypeptide topology of the E2 protein, on the interactions between the E1 and E2 glycoproteins in the formation of a heterodimer, on the difference in conformation of the two types of trimeric spikes, on the interaction between the transmembrane helices of the E1 and E2 proteins, and on the conformational changes that occur when fusing with a host cell. The positions of various markers on the E2 protein established the approximate topology of the E2 structure. The largest conformational differences between the icosahedral surface spikes at icosahedral 3-fold and quasi-3-fold positions are associated with the monomers closest to the 5-fold axes. The long E2 monomers, containing the cell receptor recognition motif at their extremities, are shown to rotate by about 180°and to move away from the center of the spikes during fusion.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Rob Ashmore and Chuan Xiao for developing and maintaining numerous computer and interactive graphic programs, and Ying Zhang and Petr Leiman for helpful discussions and Jolanda Smit for purified SFV. The work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project Grant (AI55672) to T.S.B., R.J.K., M.G.R., and J.H.S., and by NIH grants to T.S.B. (GM R37-033050), R.J.K. (GM56279), and J.H.S. (AI20612).