Antisera were raised in rabbits against fusion proteins consisting of β-galactosidase and partial amino acid sequences of Semliki Forest virus (SFV)-specific non-structural proteins nsP1, nsP2, nsP3 and nsP4. The antisera were specific since each of them precipitated only one labelled protein of a size expected for nsP1, nsP2, nsP3 or nsP4 from lysates of [S]methionine-labelled SFV-infected BHK-21 cells. The specific antisera also precipitated p220 (with sequences of nsP1, nsP2 and nsP3), p155 (nsP1 and nsP2) and p135 (nsP3 and nsP4) which have been previously shown to be cleavage products of the polyprotein precursor of the non-structural proteins. nsP1, nsP4 and most of nsP3, together with the virus-specific RNA polymerase activity, were in the mitochondrial pellet (P15) fraction of infected BHK-21 cells whereas nsP2 was evenly distributed between P15 and the supernatant fraction (S15). Only antisera directed against nsP3 sequences precipitated a labelled protein from cells incubated with [P]orthophosphate during SFV infection. Treatment of the immunoprecipitate with calf alkaline intestinal phosphatase reduced the amount of labelled nsP3 considerably. Immunoprecipitated P-labelled nsP3, isolated by SDS-PAGE, was subjected to acid hydrolysis. Both phosphoserine and phosphothreonine but not phosphotyrosine could be identified in the hydrolysate. Approximately twice as much [P]serine as [P]threonine was detected in nsP3. P15 and S15 fractions were prepared from [S]methionine- and P-labelled SFV-infected cells and the S/P ratio of nsP3 was determined after immunoprecipitation and SDS-PAGE. The nsP3 in S15 was less heavily phosphorylated (about 50%) than P15-associated nsP3. Anti-nsP3 serum revealed large cytoplasmic vesicles in SFV-infected cells in indirect immunofluorescence microscopy.


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