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Published February 1998 | Published
Journal Article Open

Molecular Genetic Study of the Interaction of Sindbis Virus E2 with Ross River Virus E1 for Virus Budding


Glycoprotein PE2 of Sindbis virus will form a heterodimer with glycoprotein E1 of Ross River virus that is cleaved to an E2/E1 heterodimer and transported to the cell plasma membrane, but this chimeric heterodimer fails to interact with Sindbis virus nucleocapsids, and very little budding to produce mature virus occurs upon infection with chimeric viruses. We have isolated in both Sindbis virus E2 and in Ross River virus E1 a series of suppressing mutations that adapt these two proteins to one another and allow increased levels of chimeric virus production. Two adaptive E1 changes in an ectodomain immediately adjacent to the membrane anchor and five adaptive E2 changes in a 12-residue ectodomain centered on Asp-242 have been identified. One change in Ross River virus E1 (Gln-411right-arrowLeu) and one change in Sindbis virus E2 (Asp-248right-arrowTyr) were investigated in detail. Each change individually leads to about a 10-fold increase in virus production, and combined the two changes lead to a 100-fold increase in virus. During passage of a chimeric virus containing Ross River virus E1 and Sindbis virus E2, the E2 change was first selected, followed by the E1 change. Heterodimers containing these two adaptive mutations have a demonstrably increased degree of interaction with Sindbis virus nucleocapsids. In the parental chimera, no interaction between heterodimers and capsids was visible at the plasma membrane in electron microscopic studies, whereas alignment of nucleocapsids along the plasma membrane, indicating interaction of heterodimers with nucleocapsids, was readily seen in the adapted chimera. The significance of these findings in light of our current understanding of alphavirus budding is discussed.

Additional Information

© 1998 by the American Society for Microbiology. Received 11 August 1997/Accepted 4 November 1997 We are grateful to E. Lenches for expert technical assistance. This work was supported by NIH grants AI 20612 and AI 10793.

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