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Identification of the major membrane and core proteins of vaccinia virus by two-dimensional electrophoresis.

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  • Biology


Vaccinia virus assembly has been well studied at the ultrastructural level, but little is known about the molecular events that occur during that process. Towards this goal, we have identified the major membrane and core proteins of the intracellular mature virus (IMV). Pure IMV preparations were subjected to Nonidet P-40 (NP-40) and dithiothreitol (DTT) treatment to separate the core proteins from the membrane proteins. These proteins were subsequently separated by two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis, and the major polypeptide spots, as detected by silver staining and 35S labeling, were identified by either matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry, N-terminal amino acid sequencing, or immunoprecipitation with defined antibodies. Sixteen major spots that partitioned into the NP-40-DTT-soluble fraction were identified; 11 of these were previously described virally encoded proteins and 5 were cellular proteins, mostly of mitochondrial origin. The core fraction revealed four major spots of previously described core proteins, two of which were also detected in the membrane fraction. Subsequently, the NP-40-DTT-soluble and -insoluble fractions from purified virus preparations, separated by 2D gels, were compared with postnuclear supernatants of infected cells that had been metabolically labeled at late times (6 to 8 h) postinfection. This relatively short labeling period as well as the apparent shutoff of host protein synthesis allowed the selective detection in such postnuclear supernatants of virus-encoded proteins. These postnuclear supernatants were subsequently treated with Triton X-114 or with sodium carbonate to distinguish the membrane proteins from the soluble proteins. We have identified the major late membrane and nonmembrane proteins of the IMV as they occur in the virus as well as in infected cells. This 2D gel map should provide an important reference for future molecular studies of vaccinia virus morphogenesis.


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