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Virology. 2007 Mar 1;359(1):46-54. Epub 2006 Oct 13.

A baculovirus alkaline nuclease knockout construct produces fragmented DNA and aberrant capsids.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Nash Hall Room 220, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3804, USA.


DNA replication of bacmid-derived constructs of the Autographa californica multiple nucleocapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) was analyzed by field inversion gel electrophoresis (FIGE) in combination with digestion at a unique Eco81I restriction enzyme site. Three constructs were characterized: a parental bacmid, a bacmid deleted for the alkaline nuclease gene, and a bacmid from which the gp64 gene had been deleted. The latter was employed as a control for comparison with the alkaline nuclease knockout because neither yields infectious virus and their replication is limited to the initially transfected cells. The major difference between DNA replicated by the different constructs was the presence in the alkaline nuclease knockout of high concentrations of relatively small, subgenome length DNA in preparations not treated with Eco81I. Furthermore, upon Eco81I digestion, the alkaline nuclease knockout bacmid also yielded substantially more subgenome size DNA than the other constructs. Electron microscopic examination of cells transfected with the alkaline nuclease knockout indicated that, in addition to a limited number of normal-appearing electron-dense nucleocapsids, numerous aberrant capsid-like structures were observed indicating a defect in nucleocapsid maturation or in a DNA processing step that is necessary for encapsidation. Because of the documented role of the baculovirus alkaline nuclease and its homologs from other viruses in homologous recombination, these data suggest that DNA recombination may play a major role in the production of baculovirus genomes.

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