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EMBO J. 1992 Feb;11(2):467-72.

Expression of factor X and its significance for the determination of paramyxovirus tropism in the chick embryo.

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Research Institute for Disease Mechanism and Control, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.


Enveloped animal viruses usually possess a surface glycoprotein which mediates fusion between the viral envelope and host cell membrane, hence enabling the initiation of infection, and its biosynthesis often involves post-translational endoproteolytic activation of the inactive precursor by a host cell protease(s). Therefore, the protease distribution in the host must be critical for determining the viral tropism. We previously isolated from chick embryo a cogent candidate endoprotease of this kind for paramyxovirus infection, and demonstrated its identity with factor X (FX), a vitamin K-dependent serine protease in the prothrombin family which, in general, is synthesized in the liver and circulates as one of the plasma proteases essential for blood clotting. Here, we examined FX expression with specific cDNA and antibody probes in a series of embryonic tissues. Many tissues other than the liver expressed the specific mRNA but, in most instances, the translation products remained inactive zymogen forms. The enzymatically active FXa was detectable only in the allantoic fluid and amniotic fluid, and virus spreading was strictly confined to the tissues in direct contact with these FXa-containing fluids. Thus, the ectopically expressed FXa is probably the major host determinant of paramyxovirus tropism in ovo.

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