Identification of Functional Domains in the 14-Kilodalton Envelope Protein (A27L) of Vaccinia Virus
Journal of Virology
The mechanism of entry of vaccinia virus (VV) into cells is still a poorly understood process. A 14-kDa protein (encoded by the A27L gene) in the envelope of intracellular mature virus (IMV) has been implicated in virus-cell attachment, virus-cell fusion, and virus release from cells. We have previously described the structural organization of the VV 14-kDa protein, consisting of a triple-stranded coiled-coil region responsible for oligomer formation and a predicted Leu zipper-like third alpha
... r-like third alpha helix with an important role in the interaction with a 21-kDa membrane protein (encoded by the A17L gene) thought to anchor the 14-kDa protein to the envelope of IMV (M.-I. Vázquez, G. Rivas, D. Cregut, L. Serrano, and M. Esteban, J. Virol. 72:10126–10137, 1998). To identify the functional domains important for virus entry and release, we have generated VV recombinants containing a copy of the A27L gene regulated by the lacIoperator-repressor system of Escherichia coli (VVIndA27L) in the thymidine kinase locus and a mutant form of the A27L gene in the hemagglutinin locus but expressed constitutively under the control of an early-late VV promoter. Cells infected with a VV recombinant that expresses a mutant 14-kDa form lacking the first 29 amino acids at the N terminus failed to form extracellular enveloped virus (EEV). Fusion-from-without assays with purified virus confirmed that the fusion process was mediated by the 14-kDa protein and the fusion domain to be contained within amino acids 29 to 43 of the N-terminal region. Competitive inhibition of the infection process with soluble heparin and synthetic peptides and in vitro experiments with purified mutant proteins identified the heparin binding domain within amino acids 21 to 33, suggesting that this domain is involved in virus-cell binding via heparan sulfate. Thus, the N terminus of the 14-kDa protein contains a heparin binding domain, a fusion domain, and a domain responsible for interacting with proteins or lipids in the Golgi stacks for EEV formation and virus spread.