The phosphoprotein (NS) gene from the Indiana serotype of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV; Mudd-Summers strain) was cloned and sequenced. The NS gene encodes a protein of 265 amino acids which was expressed from a simian virus 40 vector in COS cells. The post-translational modification characteristic of viral NS, the extensive phosphorylation of a cluster of serine and threonine residues, was also evident in recombinant NS protein. The NS gene displays a property common to the phosphoprotein genes of negative-strand RNA viruses: the phosphoprotein mRNA has a second open reading frame (ORF) which could encode a small (7500 mol. wt.) protein. Both measles virus and Sendai virus employ the second ORF of their phosphoprotein gene, and the resultant proteins have an amino acid composition similar to that predicted for the VSV ORF. Comparison of phosphoproteins from different VSV strains revealed two conserved domains that we propose are critical for the function of NS in transcription and replication.


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