Bovine MDBK cells were transfected with Rous sarcoma virus-based vectors for constitutive expression of the bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1) glycoprotein, gI. Cell lines stably expressing recombinant gI were cloned and characterized. Recombinant gI was localized intracellularly, predominantly in a perinuclear region, and on the cell surface. Cells expressing gI exhibited spontaneous polykaryon formation, thus confirming the fusogenic activity described previously in gI-expressing transfected murine LMTK cells. Teh recombinant form of gI synthesized in transfected MDBK cells was similar in to the form expressed in BHV-1-infected MDBK cells, unlike the recombinant form of gI expressed by LMTK cells which is deficient in -linked glycosylation. It was concluded that cell fusion associated with the expression of BHV-1 gI in transfected mammalian cells is a reproducible phenomenon in a number of cell types and is not due to species-specific factors or expression of abnormally glycosylated gI. Cell fusion is a useful marker for gI function and may contribute to the spread of BHV-1 infections .


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