The Myxoma Virus M-T4 Gene Encodes a Novel RDEL-Containing Protein That Is Retained within the Endoplasmic Reticulum and Is Important for the Productive Infection of Lymphocytes Journal Articles uri icon

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  • To investigate the contribution of the myxoma virus M-T4 gene to viral virulence, both copies of the M-T4 gene were inactivated by disruption and insertion of the Escherichia coli guanosine phosphoribosyltransferase gene. Infection of European rabbits with the recombinant M-T4-deleted virus, vMyxlacT4, resulted in disease attenuation. In contrast, infection of rabbits with vMyxlac elicited the classical features of lethal myxomatosis. A notable decrease in the number of secondary lesions in animals infected with vMyxlacT4 suggested an inability of the virus to disseminate in vivo. Infection of either a rabbit CD4+ T cell line, RL-5, or primary rabbit peripheral blood lymphocytes with vMyxlacT4- resulted in the rapid induction of apoptosis. Sequence analysis of M-T4 revealed both an N-terminal signal sequence and a C-terminal -RDEL sequence, suggesting that M-T4 resides in the endoplasmic reticulum. The M-T4 protein was found to be sensitive to endo H digestion and confocal fluorescence microscopy demonstrated that M-T4 colocalized with calreticulin, indicating that M-T4 is retained within the endoplasmic reticulum. Our results indicate that M-T4 is the first example of an intracellular virulence factor in myxoma virus that functions from within the endoplasmic reticulum and is necessary for the productive infection of lymphocytes.


  • Barry, Michele
  • Hnatiuk, Shawna
  • Mossman, Karen
  • Lee, Siow-Fong
  • Boshkov, Lynn
  • McFadden, Grant

publication date

  • December 1997

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