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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Deletion of the vaccinia virus B5R gene encoding a 42-kilodalton membrane glycoprotein inhibits extracellular virus envelope formation and dissemination.

The structure, formation, and function of the virion membranes are among the least well understood aspects of vaccinia virus replication. In this study, we investigated the role of gp42, a glycoprotein component of the extracellular enveloped form of vaccinia virus (EEV) encoded by the B5R gene. The B5R gene was deleted by homologous recombination from vaccinia virus strains IHD-J and WR, which produce high and low levels of EEV, respectively. Isolation of recombinant viruses was facilitated by the insertion into the genome of a cassette containing the Escherichia coli gpt and lacZ genes flanked by the ends of the B5R gene to provide simultaneous antibiotic selection and color screening. Deletion mutant viruses of both strains formed tiny plaques, and those of the IHD-J mutant lacked the characteristic comet shape caused by release of EEV. Nevertheless, similar yields of intracellular infectious virus were obtained whether cells were infected with the B5R deletion mutants or their parental strains. In the case of IHD-J, however, this deletion severely reduced the amount of infectious extracellular virus. Metabolic labeling studies demonstrated that the low extracellular infectivity corresponded with a decrease in EEV particles in the medium. Electron microscopic examination revealed that mature intracellular naked virions (INV) were present in cells infected with mutant virus, but neither membrane-wrapped INV nor significant amounts of plasma membrane-associated virus were observed. Syncytium formation, which occurs in cells infected with wild-type WR and IHD-J virus after brief low-pH treatment, did not occur in cells infected with the B5R deletion mutants. By contrast, syncytium formation induced by antibody to the viral hemagglutinin occurred, suggesting that different mechanisms are involved. When assayed by intracranial injection into weanling mice, both IHD-J and WR mutant viruses were found to be significantly attenuated. These findings demonstrate that the 42-kDa glycoprotein of the EEV is required for efficient membrane enwrapment of INV, externalization of the virus, and transmission and that gp42 contributes to viral virulence in strains producing both low and high levels of EEV.[1]


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