A region of the baculovirus nuclear polyhedrosis virus genome that is frequently found to be altered after serial passage of the virus in cell culture was characterized. Sequence analysis of this region of the genome in wild-type and mutant viruses revealed that some of the mutations affected a 675 bp open reading frame, designated DA26. The DA26 gene was disrupted both by deletion and by insertion of sequences that resembled transposable elements. Northern blot analysis of DA26 showed that it was expressed very early after infection. DA26-specific transcripts could be detected after the 1 h viral adsorption period upon infection of cultured cells. These transcripts were mapped by nuclease protection assays. A recombinant virus was constructed in which DA26 was disrupted by insertion of the gene. This virus was viable in both and cells and analysis of the kinetics of protein synthesis revealed no differences between wild-type and recombinant viruses. The disruption of DA26 also did not interfere with the ability of the virus to infect or larvae.


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