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Small icosahedral viruses are amongst the simplest and most regular, rendering them relatively tractable to structural analysis. The similarities in fold and architecture that have been observed derive from the universal need for genetic economy, limitations imposed by the rules of protein folding and the specificity of inter-protein interactions. Thus related viruses with hosts from different domains of life have arrived at a similar structural solution. Even in the absence of sequence similarity this can be frequently taken to reflect evolutionary homology. Here we focus especially on picornaviruses, considering how the structural features of these important human and animal pathogens relate to biological function.

Original publication





Book title

Encyclopedia of Virology: Volume 1-5, Fourth Edition

Publication Date





278 - 289