Ebola Virus Glycoprotein Strongly Binds to Membranes in the Absence of Receptor Engagement

Alisa Vaknin, Alon Grossman, Natasha D. Durham, Inbal Lupovitz, Shahar Goren, Gonen Golani, Yael Roichman, James B. Munro*, Raya Sorkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ebola virus (EBOV) is an enveloped virus that must fuse with the host cell membrane in order to release its genome and initiate infection. This process requires the action of the EBOV envelope glycoprotein (GP), encoded by the virus, which resides in the viral envelope and consists of a receptor binding subunit, GP1, and a membrane fusion subunit, GP2. Despite extensive research, a mechanistic understanding of the viral fusion process is incomplete. To investigate GP-membrane association, a key step in the fusion process, we used two approaches: high-throughput measurements of single-particle diffusion and single-molecule measurements with optical tweezers. Using these methods, we show that the presence of the endosomal Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) receptor is not required for primed GP-membrane binding. In addition, we demonstrate this binding is very strong, likely attributed to the interaction between the GP fusion loop and the membrane’s hydrophobic core. Our results also align with previously reported findings, emphasizing the significance of acidic pH in the protein-membrane interaction. Beyond Ebola virus research, our approach provides a powerful toolkit for studying other protein-membrane interactions, opening new avenues for a better understanding of protein-mediated membrane fusion events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1590-1601
Number of pages12
JournalACS Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - 10 May 2024


FundersFunder number
European Research Council
NSF-BSF2021793, 385/21, 988/17
Israel Science Foundation1289/20
Israel Science Foundation
National Institutes of HealthR01GM143773, R01AI174645, R01AI148784
National Institutes of Health
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme101002392
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme


    • DNA stretching
    • Ebola virus
    • fusogens
    • glycoprotein
    • optical tweezers
    • particle tracking


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