The interaction between brome mosaic virus (BMV) coat protein (CP) and viral RNA is a carefully orchestrated process resulting in the formation of homogeneous population of infectious virions with T=3 symmetry. Expression in vivo of either wild type or mutant BMV CP through homologous replication never results in the assembly of aberrant particles. In this study, we report that deletion of amino acid residues 41-47 from the N-proximal region of BMV CP resulted in the assembly of polymorphic virions in vivo. Purified virions from symptomatic leaves remain non-infectious and Northern blot analysis of virion RNA displayed packaging defects. Biochemical characterization of variant CP by circular dichroism and MALDI-TOF, respectively, revealed that the engineered deletion affected the protein structure and capsid dynamics. Most significantly, CP subunits dissociated from polymorphic virions are incompetent for in vitro reassembly. Based on these observations, we propose a chaperon-mediated mechanism for the assembly of variant CP in vivo and also hypothesize that (41)KAIKAIA(47) N-proximal peptide functions as a molecular switch in regulating T=3 virion symmetry.