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J Virol. 2006 Jun;80(11):5474-81.

Lepidopteran ortholog of Drosophila breathless is a receptor for the baculovirus fibroblast growth factor.

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Department of Agricultural and Environmental Biology, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


The Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV) encodes a gene homologous to the mammalian fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family. We report the cloning of B. mori and Spodoptera frugiperda orthologous genes (Bmbtl and Sfbtl, respectively) of Drosophila melanogaster breathless (btl) encoding a receptor for Branchless/FGF and show that these genes encode the receptor for a baculovirus-encoded FGF (vFGF). Sequence analysis showed that BmBtl is composed of 856 amino acid residues, which potentially encodes a 97.3-kDa polypeptide and shares structural features and sequence similarities with the FGF receptor family. Reverse transcription-PCR experiments showed that Bmbtl was abundantly expressed in the trachea and midgut in B. mori larvae, with moderate expression observed in the hemocytes and the B. mori cultured cell line BmN. We generated Sf-9 cells that stably expressed His-tagged BmBtl. Western blot analysis revealed that BmBtl was an approximately 110-kDa protein. Immunoprecipitation experiments showed that BmNPV vFGF markedly phosphorylated BmBtl in Sf-9 cells. In addition, we found that BmBtl overexpression enhanced the migration activity for BmNPV vFGF. Furthermore, we generated Sf-9 cells in which Sfbtl was knocked down by transfection with double-strand RNA-expressing plasmids. In these cells, cell motility triggered by vFGF was markedly reduced. These results strongly suggest that the Btl orthologs, BmBtl and SfBtl, are the receptors for vFGF, which mediate vFGF-induced host cell chemotaxis.

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