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Mutations affecting cleavage at the p10-capsid protease cleavage site block Rous sarcoma virus replication

Marcy L Vana1, Aiping Chen1, Peter Boross23, Irene Weber2, Dalbinder Colman4, Eric Barklis4 and Jonathan Leis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA

2 Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA

3 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department, Medical and Health Sciences Center, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary

4 Vollum Institute and Department of Microbiology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, 97201, USA

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Retrovirology 2005, 2:58  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-2-58

Published: 27 September 2005

Abstract

A series of amino acid substitutions (M239F, M239G, P240F, V241G) were placed in the p10-CA protease cleavage site (VVAM*PVVI) to change the rate of cleavage of the junction. The effects of these substitutions on p10-CA cleavage by RSV PR were confirmed by measuring the kinetics of cleavage of model peptide substrates containing the wild type and mutant p10-CA sites. The effects of these substitutions on processing of the Gag polyprotein were determined by labeling Gag transfected COS-1 cells with 35S-Met and -Cys, and immunoprecipitation of Gag and its cleavage products from the media and lysate fractions. All substitutions except M239F caused decreases in detectable Gag processing and subsequent release from cells. Several of the mutants also caused defects in production of the three CA proteins. The p10-CA mutations were subcloned into an RSV proviral vector (RCAN) and introduced into a chick embryo fibroblast cell line (DF-1). All of the mutations except M239F blocked RSV replication. In addition, the effects of the M239F and M239G substitutions on the morphology of released virus particles were examined by electron microscopy. While the M239F particles appeared similar to wild type particles, M239G particles contained cores that were large and misshapen. These results suggest that mutations affecting cleavage at the p10-CA protease cleavage site block RSV replication and can have a negative impact on virus particle morphology.