The structure of rhesus rotavirus was examined by cryoelectron microscopy and image analysis. Three-dimensional reconstructions of infectious virions were computed at 26- and 37-A resolution from electron micrographs recorded at two different levels of defocus. The major features revealed by the reconstructions are (a) both outer and inner capsids are constructed with T = 13l icosahedral lattice symmetry; (b) 60 spikelike projections, attributed to VP4, extend at least 100 A from the outer capsid surface; (c) the outer capsid, attributed primarily to VP7, has a smoothly rippled surface at a mean radius of 377 A and is perforated by 132 aqueous holes ranging from 40-65 A in diameter; (d) the inner capsid has a "bristled" outer surface composed of 260 trimeric-shaped columns of density, attributed to VP6, which merge with a smooth, spherical shell of density at a lower, mean radius of 299 A, and which is perforated by holes in register with those in the outer capsid; (e) a "core" region contains a third, nonspherical shell of density at a mean radius of 225 A that encapsidates the double-stranded RNA genome; and (f) the space between the outer and inner capsids forms an open aqueous network that may provide pathways for the diffusion of ions and small regulatory molecules as well as the extrusion of RNA. The assignment of different viral structural proteins to specific features of the reconstruction has been tentatively made on the basis of excluded volume estimates and previous biochemical characterizations of rotavirus.

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