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Virology. 2000 Apr 10;269(2):325-34.

The cytoplasmic tails of the influenza virus spike glycoproteins are required for normal genome packaging.

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Department of Biochemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 60208-3500, USA.


Deletion of the cytoplasmic tails of the influenza A virus spike glycoproteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), has previously been shown to result in markedly defective virion morphogenesis (Jin et al., 1997, EMBO J. 16, 1236-1247). We have found that influenza A virus preparations lacking the HA and NA cytoplasmic tails (HAt-/NAt-) have a reduced vRNA to protein content, contain an increase in cellular RNA contaminants, and exhibit increased resistance to ultraviolet (UV) inactivation. There is also a direct correlation between abnormal virion morphology and reduced infectivity. The data suggest that the HAt-/NAt- virion population contains a broader range of number of packaged RNA segments than wild-type (wt) virus. Sucrose gradient centrifugation analysis indicated the presence of a subpopulation of virions with pronounced deformation in virion morphology and reduced infectivity. The role of the HA and NA cytoplasmic tails was examined further by using a trans-complementation assay and it was found that expression of wt HA and NA from cDNAs followed by HAt-/NAt- virus infection caused the formation of a pseudotype virus with wt sedimentation properties. Taken together the data indicate that the HA and NA cytoplasmic tails affect not only virion morphology but also proper genome packaging.

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