Alphaviruses are transmitted by an arthropod vector to a vertebrate host. The disease pathologies, cellular environments, immune responses, and host factors are very different in these organisms. Yet, the virus is able to infect, replicate, and assemble into new particles in these two animals using one set of genetic instructions. The balance between conserved mechanisms and unique strategies during virus assembly is critical for fitness of the virus. In this review, we discuss new findings in receptor binding, polyprotein topology, nucleocapsid core formation, and particle budding that have emerged in the last five years and share opinions on how these new findings might answer some questions regarding alphavirus structure and assembly.
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