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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 May 12;95(10):5762-7.

Processing of the Ebola virus glycoprotein by the proprotein convertase furin.

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  • 1Institut für Virologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, 35011 Marburg, Germany. volchkov@mailer.uni-marburg.de


In the present study, we have investigated processing and maturation of the envelope glycoprotein (GP) of Ebola virus. When GP expressed from vaccinia virus vectors was analyzed by pulse-chase experiments, the mature form and two different precursors were identified. First, the endoplasmic reticulum form preGPer, full-length GP with oligomannosidic N-glycans, was detected. preGPer (110 kDa) was replaced by the Golgi-specific form preGP (160 kDa), full-length GP containing mature carbohydrates. preGP was finally converted by proteolysis into mature GP1,2, which consisted of two disulfide-linked cleavage products, the amino-terminal 140-kDa fragment GP1, and the carboxyl-terminal 26-kDa fragment GP2. GP1,2 was also identified in Ebola virions. Studies employing site-directed mutagenesis revealed that GP was cleaved at a multibasic amino acid motif located at positions 497 to 501 of the ORF. Cleavage was blocked by a peptidyl chloromethylketone containing such a motif. GP is cleaved by the proprotein convertase furin. This was indicated by the observation that cleavage did not occur when GP was expressed in furin-defective LoVo cells but that it was restored in these cells by vector-expressed furin. The Reston subtype, which differs from all other Ebola viruses by its low human pathogenicity, has a reduced cleavability due to a mutation at the cleavage site. As a result of these observations, it should now be considered that proteolytic processing of GP may be an important determinant for the pathogenicity of Ebola virus.

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