Bonnie Berger


LearnCoil-VMF: Computational Evidence for Coiled-coil-like Motifs in Many Viral Membrane Fusion Proteins

Mona Singh, Bonnie Berger, and Peter S. Kim


Crystallographic studies have shown that the coiled-coil motif occurs in several viral membrane-fusion proteins, including HIV-1 gp41 and influenza virus hemagglutinin. Here, the LearnCoil-VMF program was designed as a specialized program for identifying coiled-coil-like regions in viral membrane-fusion proteins. Based upon the use of LearnCoil-VMF, as well as other computational tools, we report detailed sequence analyses of coiled-coil-like regions in retrovirus, paramyxovirus and filovirus membrane-fusion proteins. Additionally, sequence analyses of these proteins outside their putative coiled-coil domains illustrate some structural differences between them. Complementing previous crystallographic studies, the coiled-coil-like regions detected by LearnCoil-VMF provide further evidence that the three-stranded coiled coil is a common motif found in many diverse viral membrane-fusion proteins. The abundance and structural conservation of this motif, even in the absence of sequence homology, suggests that it is critical for viral-cellular membrane fusion. The LearnCoil-VMF program is available at