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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Jun 30;345(2):825-33. Epub 2006 May 2.

Comparative studies of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus chitinase and its host ortholog, BmChi-h.

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


Baculovirus-encoded chitinases (V-CHIAs) were first proposed to be acquired from a bacterium via horizontal gene transfer. However, we have recently reported that lepidopteran hosts also encode v-chiA orthologs. Here we describe comparative studies of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV) chitinase and its host ortholog, BmChi-h. We constructed recombinant BmNPVs in which native and modified forms of BmChi-h were driven under the polyhedrin promoter and the authentic v-chiA was deleted. Western blot analysis indicated that BmCHI-h was rapidly secreted from virus-infected BmN cells whereas BmNPV CHIA was localized within the virus-infected cells; probably because of the presence of a C-terminal endoplasmic reticulum retention motif on BmNPV CHIA. Enzymological studies showed that BmNPV CHIA was able to retain much higher chitinolytic activity under alkaline conditions. For B. mori larvae infected with v-chiA-deleted BmNPV, the terminal liquefaction of dead larvae and the activation of baculovirus-encoded cysteine protease were not observed, and the introduction of BmChi-h did not rescue these defects. Our findings show that BmNPV chiA possesses unique features that are not shared by host orthologs, which may reflect functional specialization of baculovirus chitinases.

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