The fusion (F) protein of the paramyxovirus SV5 strain W3A causes syncytium formation without coexpression of the SV5 hemagglutinin- neuraminidase (HN) glycoprotein, whereas the F protein of the SV5 strain WR requires coexpression of HN for fusion activity. SV5 strains W3A and WR differ by three amino acid residues at positions 22, 443, and 516. The W3A F protein residues P22, S443, and V516 were changed to amino acids found in the WR F protein (L22, P443, and A516, respectively). Three single-mutants, three double-mutants, and the triple-mutant were constructed, expressed, and assayed for fusion using three different assays. Mutant P22L did not Cause fusion under physiological conditions, but fusion was activated at elevated temperatures. Compared with the W3A F protein, mutant S443P enhanced the fusion kinetics with a faster rate and greater extent, and had a lower activation temperature. Mutant V516A had little effect on F protein-mediated fusion. The double-mutant P22L,S443P was capable of causing fusion, suggesting that the two mutations have opposing effects on fusion activation. The WR F protein requires coexpression of HN to cause fusion at 37°C, and does not cause fusion at 37°C when coexpressed with influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA); however, at elevated temperatures coexpression of WR F protein with HA resulted in fusion activation. In the crystal structure of the core trimer of the SV5 F protein (Baker, K. A., Dutch, R. E., Lamb, R.A., and Jardetzky, T. S. (1999). Mol. Cell 3, 309-319), S443 is the last residue (with interpretable electron density) in an extended chain region and the temperature factor for S443 is high, suggesting conformational flexibility at this point. Thus, the presence of prolines at residues 22 and 443 may destabilize the F protein and thereby decrease the energy required to trigger the presumptive conformational change to the fusion-active state. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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