Cryo-EM model of the bullet-shaped vesicular stomatitis virus.

Publication Date



Science. 2010 February 5; 327(5966): 689–693.


Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a bullet-shaped rhabdovirus and a model system of negative-strand RNA viruses. Through direct visualization by means of cryo-electron microscopy, we show that each virion contains two nested, left-handed helices: an outer helix of matrix protein M and an inner helix of nucleoprotein N and RNA. M has a hub domain with four contact sites that link to neighboring M and N subunits, providing rigidity by clamping adjacent turns of the nucleocapsid. Side-by-side interactions between neighboring N subunits are critical for the nucleocapsid to form a bullet shape, and structure-based mutagenesis results support this description. Together, our data suggest a mechanism of VSV assembly in which the nucleocapsid spirals from the tip to become the helical trunk, both subsequently framed and rigidified by the M layer.


Cryoelectron Microscopy, Crystallography, X-Ray, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Lipid Bilayers, Models, Molecular, Mutagenesis, Nucleocapsid Proteins, Protein Conformation, Protein Structure, Secondary, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Protein Subunits, RNA, Viral, Vesiculovirus, Viral Matrix Proteins, Virion, Virus Assembly