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J Virol. 1994 Mar;68(3):1522-31.

Functional analysis of N-linked glycosylation mutants of the measles virus fusion protein synthesized by recombinant vaccinia virus vectors.

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Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Division of Molecular Immunology and Neurobiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The role of N-linked glycosylation in the biological activity of the measles virus (MV) fusion (F) protein was analyzed by expressing glycosylation mutants with recombinant vaccinia virus vectors. There are three potential N-linked glycosylation sites located on the F2 subunit polypeptide of MV F, at asparagine residues 29, 61, and 67. Each of the three potential glycosylation sites was mutated separately as well as in combination with the other sites. Expression of mutant proteins in mammalian cells showed that all three sites are used for the addition of N-linked oligosaccharides. Cell surface expression of mutant proteins was reduced by 50% relative to the wild-type level when glycosylation at either Asn-29 or Asn-61 was abolished. Despite the similar levels of cell surface expression, the Asn-29 and Asn-61 mutant proteins had different biological activities. While the Asn-61 mutant was capable of inducing syncytium formation, the Asn-29 mutant protein did not exhibit any significant cell fusion activity. Inactivation of the Asn-67 glycosylation site also reduced cell surface transport of mutant protein but had little effect on its ability to cause cell fusion. However, when the Asn-67 mutation was combined with mutations at either of the other two sites, cleavage-dependent activation, cell surface expression, and cell fusion activity were completely abolished. Our data show that the loss of N-linked oligosaccharides markedly impaired the proteolytic cleavage, stability, and biological activity of the MV F protein. The oligosaccharide side chains in MV F are thus essential for optimum conformation of the extracellular F2 subunit that is presumed to bind cellular membranes.

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