A measles virus (Hallé strain) cDNA library was prepared by cloning virus-induced mRNA directly into the expression vector PCD. Clones corresponding to the measles virus haemagglutinin (HA) gene were isolated and one, PCD-HA-15, which corresponded to the complete mRNA sequence, was further characterized. After transfection into COS-7 cells, measles virus HA antigen was detected by immunofluorescence. The [S]methionine-labelled HA protein from transfected cells was immunoprecipitated by both polyclonal and monoclonal measles virus antibodies. Analysis by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis revealed that the PCD-HA-15 protein migrated in a manner identical to the virus-induced HA. Nucleotide sequence analysis established that the gene contained 1949 nucleotides [exclusive of poly(A)] and coded for a protein containing 617 amino acids. A single hydrophobic domain likely to represent the transmembrane region was identified at the N-terminus. A second overlapping reading frame coded for a protein containing 70 amino acids. This contained a short hydrophobic region (16 amino acids) and had two potential -glycosylation sites. Comparison of the HA gene of the Hallé strain with the published sequence of the Edmonston strain showed that there was a high degree of conservation (99.3%).


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