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J Gen Virol. 2004 Oct;85(Pt 10):3049-58.

Single point mutation in tick-borne encephalitis virus prM protein induces a reduction of virus particle secretion.

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  • 1Laboratory of Public Health, Department of Environmental Veterinary Sciences, Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0818, Japan.


Flaviviruses are assembled to bud into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and are secreted through the vesicle transport pathway. Virus envelope proteins play important roles in this process. In this study, the effect of mutations in the envelope proteins of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus on secretion of virus-like particles (VLPs), using a recombinant plasmid expression system was analysed. It was found that a single point mutation at position 63 in prM induces a reduction in secretion of VLPs. The mutation in prM did not affect the folding of the envelope proteins, and chaperone-like activity of prM was maintained. As observed by immunofluorescence microscopy, viral envelope proteins with the mutation in prM were scarce in the Golgi complex, and accumulated in the ER. Electron microscopic analysis of cells expressing the mutated prM revealed that many tubular structures were present in the lumen. The insertion of the prM mutation at aa 63 into the viral genome reduced the production of infectious virus particles. This data suggest that prM plays a crucial role in the virus budding process.

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