Characterization of the putative fusogenic domain in vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein G.
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The envelope glycoprotein G of vesicular stomatitis virus induces membrane fusion at low pH. Site-directed mutagenesis of specific amino acids within a segment spanning amino acids 123 to 137 of G protein, which is highly conserved in vesiculoviruses and was previously shown by us to be involved in fusogenic activity (Y. Li, C. Drone, E. Sat, and H. P. Ghosh, J. Virol. 67:4070-4077, 1993), was used to determine the role of this region in low-pH-induced membrane fusion. The mutant glycoproteins expressed in COS cells were assayed for acid-pH-induced cell-cell fusion. Substitution of the variant Pro-123 with Leu had no effect on the fusogenic activity, while substitution of conserved Phe-125 and Asp-137 with Tyr and Asn, respectively, shifted the pH optimum of membrane fusion to a more acidic pH value and decreased the fusion efficiency. The deletion of amino acid residues 124 to 127, 131 to 137, or 124 to 137 produced mutants defective in transport. Mutation of the conserved residues Gly-124 and Pro-127 to Ala and to Gly or Leu, respectively, inhibited cell-cell fusion activity by about 90% without affecting transport of the mutant proteins to the cell surface, suggesting that these two residues may be present within the fusion peptide and thus may be directly involved in fusion. This highly conserved domain containing neutral amino acids of G protein may therefore represent the putative fusion domain of vesicular stomatitis virus G protein.
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