Pseudorabies virus (PRV) vaccine strain Bartha has a diminished capacity to cause disease and harbors a variety of mutations affecting virulence. It has been reported that PRV Bartha produces virions with reduced amounts of the major envelope glycoprotein gIII. One hypothesis was that this phenotype was due to reduced expression of the gIII gene. In this report, we demonstrate that the reduced amount of gIII in virions was not mediated at the level of transcription, but rather reflected a defect in protein localization. We describe experiments with gene replacement technology to prove that the expression defect was closely linked to the gIII gene itself. Using pulse-chase experiments, we found a defect similar to that observed for certain signal sequence mutations of PRV Becker gIII. The Bartha gIII protein was translated, but was inefficiently introduced into the membrane protein export pathway. Consequently, only a fraction of the primary Bartha gIII translation product was glycosylated and matured. The remaining fraction stayed presumably in the cytoplasm, where it never became glycosylated or inserted into cell or virus membranes. The result was that Bartha-infected cells produced virions with reduced amounts of gIII in their envelopes. Comparison of the DNA sequence of the promoter and amino-terminal coding regions of Becker and Bartha gIII genes revealed a single base pair difference in Bartha, changing codon 14 of the signal sequence from a leucine (CTC) to a proline (CCC) codon. We suggest that the signal sequence mutation is responsible for the apparent reduced expression phenotype of this attenuated strain. This mutation represents, to our knowledge, the first reported natural signal sequence mutation in a herpesvirus glycoprotein.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science