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J Gen Virol. 2006 Jun;87(Pt 6):1649-58.

Sequence elements of the fusion peptide of human respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein required for activity.

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Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, 28220 Madrid, Spain.


We have reported previously the expression and purification of an anchorless form of the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) F protein (F(TM-)) representing the ectodomain of the full-length F. F(TM-) molecules are seen as unaggregated cones by electron microscopy but completion of proteolytic cleavage of the F0 monomers in the F(TM-) trimer leads to a change in shape from cones to lollipops that aggregate into rosettes. This aggregation apparently occurs by interaction of the fusion peptides of F(TM-) molecules that are exposed after cleavage. Since exposure of the fusion peptide is a key event in the process of membrane fusion, changes associated with F(TM-) cleavage may reflect those occurring in full-length F during membrane fusion. Deletions or substitutions that changed either the length, charge or hydrophobicity of the fusion peptide inhibited aggregation of F(TM-), and these mutants remained as unaggregated cones after cleavage. In contrast, more conservative changes did not inhibit the change of shape and aggregation of F(TM-). When the same changes were introduced in the fusion peptide of full-length F, only the mutations that inhibited aggregation of F(TM-) prevented membrane fusion. Thus, the conformational changes that follow completion of cleavage of the F(TM-) protein require a functional fusion peptide. These sequence constraints may restrict accumulation of sequence changes in the fusion peptide of HRSV F when compared with other hydrophobic regions of the molecule.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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