Structural perspectives of beak and feather disease virus and porcine circovirus proteins

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Circoviruses represent a rapidly expanding group of viruses that infect both vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. Members are responsible for diseases of veterinary and economic importance, including postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome in pigs, and beak and feather disease (BFD) in birds. These viruses are associated with lymphoid depletion and immunosuppressive conditions in infected animals leading to systemic illness. Circoviruses are small nonenveloped DNA viruses containing a single-stranded circular genome, encoding two major proteins: the capsid-associated protein (Cap), comprising the entirety of the viral capsid, and the replication-associated protein (Rep). Cap is the only protein component of the virion and plays crucial roles throughout the virus replication cycle, including viral attachment, cell entry, genome uncoating, and packaging of newly formed viral particles. Rep mediates recognition of replication origin motifs in the viral genome sequence and is responsible for endonuclease activity enabling nicking of the circular DNA and initiation of rolling-circle replication (RCR). Porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) was the first circovirus capsid structure to be solved at atomic resolution using X-ray crystallography. The structure revealed an assembly comprising 60 monomeric subunits to form virus-like particles. Each Cap monomer harbors a canonical viral jelly roll domain composed of two, four-stranded antiparallel β-sheets. Crystal structures of two distinct macromolecular assemblies from BFD virus Cap were also resolved at high resolution. In these structures, the exposure of the N-terminal arginine-rich motif, responsible for DNA binding and nuclear localization is reversed. Additional structural investigations have also elucidated a PCV2 type-specific neutralizing epitope, and interaction between the PCV2 capsid and polymers such as heparin. In this review, we provide a snapshot of the structural and functional aspects of circovirus proteins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalViral Immunology
Issue number1
Early online date04 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021


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