We report on a conformational transition of dengue virus when changing the temperature from that present in its mosquito vectors to that of its human host. Using cryoelectron microscopy, we show that although the virus has a smooth surface, a diameter of ∼500 Å, and little exposed membrane at room temperature, the virions have a bumpy appearance with a diameter of ∼550 Å and some exposed membrane at 37 °C. The bumpy structure at 37 °C was found to be similar to the previously predicted structure of an intermediate between the smooth mature and fusogenic forms. As humans have a body temperature of 37 °C, the bumpy form of the virus would be the form present in humans. Thus, optimal dengue virus vaccines should induce antibodies that preferentially recognize epitopes exposed on the bumpy form of the virus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6795-6799
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 23 2013


  • Cryo-EM
  • Host temperature
  • Irreversible and conformational change
  • Temperature dependence


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