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J Virol. 1981 Mar;37(3):876-86.

Synthesis of Black Beetle Virus Proteins in Cultured Drosophila Cells: Differential Expression of RNAs 1 and 2.

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Biophysics Laboratory, Graduate School, and Department of Biochemistry, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.


Black beetle virus is an insect virus with a split genome consisting of two single-stranded, messenger-active RNA molecules with molecular weights of 1.0 x 10(6) (RNA 1) and 0.5 x 10(6) (RNA 2), respectively. Virions contained two proteins, beta with a molecular weight of 43,000 (43K) and gamma (5K), and traces of a third protein, alpha (47K). When translated in cell-free extracts of rabbit reticulocytes, RNA 1 directed the synthesis of protein A (104K), whereas RNA 2 synthesized protein alpha. The in vitro translation efficiency of the two RNAs was roughly equal. Infection of cultured Drosophila cells induced the synthesis of five new proteins: A, alpha, beta, gamma, and B (10K), detected by autoradiography of polyacrylamide gels after electrophoresis of extracts from [(35)S]methionine-labeled cultures. All but protein gamma could also be detected by staining with Coomassie brilliant blue, indicating vigorous synthesis of viral proteins. Pulse-chase experiments in infected cells revealed the disappearance of protein alpha and the coordinate appearance of proteins beta and gamma, supporting an earlier proposal that coat protein of mature virions is made by cleavage of precursor alpha. Proteins A and B were stable in such pulse-chase experiments. The three classes of virus-induced proteins, represented by A, B, and alpha, were synthesized in markedly different amounts and with different kinetics. Synthesis of proteins A and B peaked early in infection and then declined, whereas synthesis of coat protein precursor alpha peaked much later. These results suggest that RNA 1 controls early replication functions via protein A (and also possibly protein B), whereas RNA 2 controls synthesis of coat protein required later for virion assembly.


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