The nucleotide sequence of an unusual fowlpox virus gene which maps immediately upstream from the fowlpox virus 4b gene has been determined. The 34000 protein predicted to be encoded by the gene contains 11 copies of a 12 amino acid serine-rich repeat sequence. The seven amino-terminal copies of the repeat sequence are perfectly conserved but variation exists in the four carboxy-terminal copies. Three peptides were synthesized which contained either one copy of the repeat sequence, two copies of the repeat sequence or a hydrophilic amino-terminal region of the protein. All three peptides when injected with adjuvant into rabbits gave rise to antibodies which reacted strongly on Western blots of purified fowlpox virus proteins with a 39000 protein. When directly compared in Western blots the antipeptide sera were shown to recognize a protein comigrating with one of the two immunodominant proteins recognized by chicken anti-fowlpox virus sera taken 2 weeks post-infection. The virion protein is removed by treatment with sodium deoxycholate suggesting that it is located at or near the surface of the virus.


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