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Published August 1989 | Published
Journal Article Open

Sindbis virus ts103 has a mutation in glycoprotein E2 that leads to defective assembly of virions


Sindbis virus mutant ts103 is aberrant in the assembly of virus particles. During virus budding, proper nucleocapsid-glycoprotein interactions fail to occur such that particles containing many nucleocapsids are formed, and the final yield of virus is low. We have determined that a mutation in the external domain of glycoprotein E2, Ala-344-->Val, is the change that leads to this phenotype. Mapping was done by making recombinant viruses between ts103 and a parental strain of the virus, using a full-length cDNA clone of Sindbis virus from which infectious RNA can be transcribed, together with sequence analysis of the region of the genome shown in this way to contain the ts103 lesion. A partial revertant of ts103, called ts103R, was also mapped and sequenced and found to be a second-site revertant in which a change in glycoprotein E1 from lysine to methionine at position 227 partially suppresses the phenotypic effects of the change at E2 position 344. An analysis of revertants from ts103 mutants in which the Ala-->Val change had been transferred into a defined background showed that pseudorevertants were more likely to arise than were true revertants and that the ts103 change itself reverted very infrequently. The assembly defect in ts103 appeared to result from weakened interactions between the virus membrane glycoproteins or between these glycoproteins and the nucleocapsid during budding. Both the E2 mutation leading to the defect in virus assembly and the suppressor mutation in glycoprotein E1 are in the domains external to the lipid bilayer and thus in domains that cannot interact directly with the nucleocapsid. This suggests that in ts103, either the E1-E2 heterodimers or the trimeric spikes (consisting of three E1-E2 heterodimers) are unstable or have an aberrant configuration, and thus do not interact properly with the nucleocapsid, or cannot assembly correctly to form the proper icosahedral array on the surface of the virus.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1989 by the American Society for Microbiology. Received 20 March 1989/Accepted 2 May 1989 This work was supported by Public Health Service grants AI 10793 and AI 20612 from the National Institutes of Health and by National Science Foundation grant DMB8617372. C.M.R. is a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.

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