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

Assembly of African swine fever virus: role of polyprotein pp220.

Polyprotein processing is a common strategy of gene expression in many positive-strand RNA viruses and retroviruses but not in DNA viruses. African swine fever virus (ASFV) is an exception because it encodes a polyprotein, named pp220, to produce several major components of the virus particle, proteins p150, p37, p34, and p14. In this study, we analyzed the assembly pathway of ASFV and the contribution of the polyprotein products to the virus structure. Electron microscopic studies revealed that virions assemble from membranous structures present in the viral factories. Viral membranes became polyhedral immature virions after capsid formation on their convex surface. Beneath the lipid envelope, two distinct domains appeared to assemble consecutively: first a thick protein layer that we refer to as core shell and then an electron-dense nucleoid, which was identified as the DNA-containing domain. Immunofluorescence studies showed that polyprotein pp220 is localized in the viral factories. At the electron microscopic level, antibodies to pp220 labeled all identifiable forms of the virus from the precursor viral membranes onward, thus indicating an early role of the polyprotein pp220 in ASFV assembly. The subviral localization of the polyprotein products, examined on purified virions, was found to be the core shell. In addition, quantitative studies showed that the polyprotein products are present in equimolar amounts in the virus particle and account for about one-fourth of its total protein content. Taken together, these results suggest that polyprotein pp220 may function as an internal protein scaffold which would mediate the interaction between the nucleoid and the outer layers similarly to the matrix proteins of other viruses.[1]


  1. Assembly of African swine fever virus: role of polyprotein pp220. Andrés, G., Simón-Mateo, C., Viñuela, E. J. Virol. (1997) [Pubmed]
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