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Burstein H, Bizub D, Kotler M, Schatz G, Vogt VM, Skalka AM
Processing of Avian Retroviral Gag Polyprotein Precursors Is Blocked by a Mutation at the Nc-Pr Cleavage Site
Journal of Virology (1992) 66:1781-1785.
Abstract
The avian sarcoma and leukosis viruses (ASLV) encode a protease (PR) at the C terminus of gag which in vivo catalyzes the processing of both gag and gag-pol precursors. The studies reported here were undertaken to determine whether PR is able to cleave these polyproteins while it is still part of the gag precursor or whether the release of its N terminus to form free PR is necessary for full proteolytic activity. To address this question, we created a mutation that disrupts the PR cleavage site between the NC and PR coding regions of the gag gene. This mutation was introduced into a eukaryotic vector that expresses only the gag precursor and into an otherwise infectious clone of ASLV that carries the neo gene as a selectable marker. These constructs were expressed in monkey COS cells or in quail QT35 cells, respectively. Processing was impaired in both systems. Mutant particles were formed, but they contained no mature processed gag proteins. We observed only the uncleaved gag precursor polypeptide Pr76 in one case or Pr76 and a cleaved product of about 60 kDa in the other. Processing of the mutant gag precursor could be complemented in trans by PR from a wild-type construct, suggesting that the mutation did not induce gross structural alterations in its precursor. Our results suggest that the PR first must be released from its precursor before it can attack other sites in the gag and gag-pol polyproteins and that cleavage at the NC-PR boundary is a prerequisite for the initiation of the PR- directed processing.
Note
Publication Date: 1992-03-01.
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