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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

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Document Type



Alanine; Amino Acid Sequence; Amino Acid Substitution; Animals; Binding Sites; COS Cells; Gene Expression; HN Protein; Methionine; *Microsatellite Repeats; Molecular Sequence Data; Mutagenesis, Site-Directed; Newcastle disease virus


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


For most paramyxoviruses, syncytium formation requires the expression of both surface glycoproteins (HN and F) in the same cell, and evidence suggests that fusion involves a specific interaction between the HN and F proteins (X. Hu et al., J. Virol. 66:1528-1534, 1992). The stalk region of the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) HN protein has been implicated in both fusion promotion and virus specificity of that activity. The NDV F protein contains two heptad repeat motifs which have been shown by site-directed mutagenesis to be critical for fusion (R. Buckland et al., J. Gen. Virol. 73:1703-1707, 1992; T. Sergel-Germano et al., J. Virol. 68:7654-7658, 1994; J. Reitter et al., J. Virol. 69:5995-6004, 1995). Heptad repeat motifs mediate protein-protein interactions by enabling the formation of coiled coils. Upon analysis of the stalk region of the NDV HN protein, we identified two heptad repeats. Secondary structure analysis of these repeats suggested the potential for these regions to form alpha helices. To investigate the importance of this sequence motif for fusion promotion, we mutated the hydrophobic a-position amino acids of each heptad repeat to alanine or methionine. In addition, hydrophobic amino acids in other positions were also changed to alanine. Every mutant protein retained levels of attachment activity that was greater than or equal to the wild-type protein activity and bound to conformation-specific monoclonal as well as polyclonal antisera. Neuraminidase activity was variably affected. Every mutation, however, showed a dramatic decrease in fusion promotion activity. The phenotypes of these mutant proteins indicate that individual amino acids within the heptad repeat region of the stalk domain of the HN protein are important for the fusion promotion activity of the protein. These data are consistent with the idea that the HN protein associates with the F protein via specific interactions between the heptad repeat regions of both proteins.


J Virol. 1999 May;73(5):3630-7.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of virology

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