Get access

Peptides as models for the structure and function of viral capsid proteins: Insights on dengue virus capsid


  • This article was originally published online as an accepted preprint. The “Published Online” date corresponds to the preprint version. You can request a copy of the preprint by emailing the Biopolymers editorial office at

Correspondence to: Miguel A. R. B. Castanho, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Prof. Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisboa, Portugal; e-mail:


The structural organization of viral particles is among the most astonishing examples of molecular self-assembly in nature, involving proteins, nucleic acids, and, sometimes, lipids. Proper assembly is essential to produce well structured infectious virions. A great variety of structural arrangements can be found in viral particles. Nucleocapsids, for instance, may display highly ordered geometric shapes or consist in macroscopically amorphous packs of the viral genome. Alphavirus and flavivirus are viral genera that exemplify these extreme cases, the former comprising viral particles structured with a T = 4 icosahedral symmetry, whereas flavivirus capsids have no regular geometry. Dengue virus is a member of flavivirus genus and is used in this article to illustrate how viral protein-derived peptides can be used advantageously over full-length proteins to unravel the foundations of viral supramolecular assemblies. Membrane- and viral RNA-binding data of capsid protein-derived dengue virus peptides are used to explain the amorphous organization of the viral capsid. Our results combine bioinformatic and spectroscopic approaches using two- or three-component peptide and/or nucleic acid and/or lipid systems. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers (Pept Sci) 100: 325–336, 2013.