Herpes simplex virus glycoprotein B (HSVgB) and its bovine herpesvirus homologue (BHVgB) share similar primary structures. These glycoproteins are present in the envelope of the virion and are believed to initiate infection by fusing the virus envelope with a host cell membrane. BHVgB, like the membrane-fusing glycoproteins of most enveloped viruses, is normally cleaved and is present as a disulphide-linked complex in the virus envelope and host cell membranes. HSVgB, however, remains uncleaved, presumably because it lacks a similar protease recognition sequence. To determine whether the cleavage of BHVgB is essential for its role in initiating infection, we altered the coding sequence of this glycoprotein by removing the protease cleavage site and making this region similar to that of HSVgB. The mutant BHVgB gene was expressed by an HSV recombinant virus in mouse L cells and produced an uncleaved BHVgB. The uncleaved BHVgB could complement the function of HSVgB which had been neutralized by monoclonal antibody H233. When expressed in mouse L cells, the uncleaved mutant BHVgB retained its ability to fuse membranes.


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