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J Virol. 2012 Apr;86(7):3985-94. doi: 10.1128/JVI.06849-11. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Analysis of the autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus overlapping gene pair lef3 and ac68 reveals that AC68 is a per os infectivity factor and that LEF3 is critical, but not essential, for virus replication.

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  • 1Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Summerland, British Columbia, Canada.


Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus ac68 is a core gene that overlaps lef3 which encodes the single-stranded DNA binding protein. A knockout (KO) virus lacking both lef3 and ac68 was generated (lef3-ac68 2×KO) to enable the functional study of ac68. To produce an ac68KO virus that did not impact lef3 expression, the lef3-ac68 2×KO virus was repaired with a DNA fragment containing lef3 and ac68, in which ac68 contained point mutations so that only LEF3 was expressed. Repair of lef3-ac68 2×KO with just ac68 generated an lef3KO virus. Analysis of the ac68KO virus showed that viral DNA replication and budded virus (BV) levels were unaffected compared to levels in the double-repair or wild-type (WT) control virus. Bioassay analyses of Trichoplusia ni larvae injected with BV directly into the hemolymph, bypassing the gut, showed no difference in mortality rates between the ac68KO and the WT viruses. However, in oral bioassays the ac68KO occlusion bodies failed to kill larvae. These results show that the core gene ac68 encodes a per os infectivity factor (pif6). The lef3KO virus was also analyzed, and virus replication was drastically reduced compared to WT virus, but very low levels of lef3KO virus DNA replication and BV production could be detected. In addition, in transfected cells P143 was transported to the nucleus in the absence of LEF3. This study therefore shows for the first time that even though the loss of LEF3 severely impairs virus replication, it is not absolutely essential for P143 nuclear import or viral replication.

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