Envelope fusion proteins (F proteins) are major constituents of budded viruses (BVs) of alpha- and betabaculoviruses (Baculoviridae) and are essential for the systemic infection of insect larvae and insect cell culture. An f homologue gene is absent in gammabaculoviruses. Here we characterized the putative F-homologue (Cuni-F), encoded by (ORF) 104 of Culex nigripalpus nucleopolyhedrovirus (CuniNPV), the only deltabaculovirus member. When expressed alone, this protein seems to locate on the cell surface and is able to induce cell–cell fusion. When expressed by an alphabaculovirus (Autographa california nucleopolyhedrovirus), it was found to be incorporated into BVs. Western blot analyses detected the uncleaved Cuni-F0 and the furin-cleaved F1 forms. Treatment of infected cells with tunicamycin showed that Cuni-F contains N-glycans. Mutagenesis analysis identified the canonical furin cleavage site126RARR129 as being responsible for the cleavage of Cuni-F in insect cells. The collective evidence suggests that CuniNPV encodes a functional F protein.
- F protein