Baculovirus entry into insect midgut cells is dependent on a multiprotein complex of per os infectivity factors (PIFs) on the envelopes of occlusion-derived virions (ODVs). The structure and assembly of the PIF complex are largely unknown. To reveal the complete members of the complex, a combination of blue native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, and Western blotting was conducted on three different baculoviruses. The results showed that the PIF complex has a molecular mass of ~500 kDa and consists of nine PIFs, including a newly discovered member (PIF9). To decipher the assembly process, each pif gene was knocked out from the Autographa californica multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) genome individually by use of synthetic baculovirus technology, and the impact on PIF complex formation was investigated. Deletion of pif8 resulted in the formation of an ~400-kDa subcomplex. Deletion of pif0, -4, -6, -7, or -9 resulted in a subcomplex of ~230 kDa, but deletion of pif1, -2, or -3 abolished formation of any complex. Taken together, our data identified a core complex of ~230 kDa, consisting of PIF1, -2, and -3. This revised the previous knowledge that the core complex was about 170 kDa and contained PIF1 to -4. Analysis of the PIF complex in cellular fractions suggested that it is assembled in the cytoplasm before being transported to the nucleus and subsequently incorporated into the envelopes of ODVs. Only the full complex, not the subcomplex, is resistant to proteolytic attack, indicating the essentiality of correct complex assembly for oral infection. IMPORTANCE Entry of baculovirus into host insects is mediated by a per os infectivity factor (PIF) complex on the envelopes of occlusion-derived viruses (ODVs). Knowledge of the composition and structure of the PIF complex is fundamental to understanding its mode of action. By using multiple approaches, we determined the complete list of proteins (nine) in the PIF complex. In contrast to previous knowledge in the field, the core complex is revised to ~230 kDa and consists of PIF1 to -3 but not PIF4. Interestingly, our results suggest that the PIF complex is formed in the cytoplasm prior to its transport to the nucleus and subsequent incorporation into ODVs. Only the full complex is resistant to proteolytic degradation in the insect midgut, implying the critical role of the entire complex. These findings provide the baseline for future studies on the ODV entry mechanism mediated by the multiprotein complex.
- Per os infectivity factor
- PIF complex