Nine virus-specified proteins were identified by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in [S]methionine-labelled chick embryo cells infected with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus by comparison with mock-infected cells. These proteins were designated P91, p74, p72, P67, GP53(E), P47, p25, P15(C) and P14.5 according to their molecular weights. Peptide mapping of P91, P67, GP53(E) and P47 from TBE virus-infected cells, as well as those of the corresponding proteins from West Nile virus (WNV)-infected cells (previously termed NV5, NV4, V3 and NV3), demonstrated the uniqueness of these proteins. Almost no subtype variability, with respect to the pattern of intracellular proteins, was found when isolates of TBE virus from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Finland and Czechoslovakia were compared. Peptide mapping of NV5 (P91) and NV4 (P67) from all these isolates using limited proteolysis with α-chymotrypsin and V8 protease revealed completely identical patterns, thus extending our observations that TBE virus seems to represent a very stable member of the flavivirus genus, which was based on the lack of variation found with the structural glycoprotein. On the other hand, the Far Eastern subtype of TBE virus and the closely related louping-ill virus could not only be differentiated from the Western subtype by differences in the peptide maps of their structural glycoprotein but also in those of the non-structural protein NV5, i.e. subtype or subgroup variations are not confined to the virion surface glycoprotein. WNV and Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) revelaed the expected heterogeneity of virus-specified proteins found in cells infected with different flaviviruses. It is especially interesting that also the largest non-structural protein, NV5, is subject to this heterogeneity, ranging in mol. wt. from 91000 for TBE virus to 98000 for MVEV and that also the peptide maps of NV5, as well as those of NV4, were unrelated. These proteins, therefore, revealed a variability between serologically distinct flaviviruses similar to that observed with the structural glycoprotein.


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