Glycoprotein gIII of pseudorabies virus (PrV) is multifunctional. It plays a role in the stable adsorption of the virus to its host cells by interacting with a cellular heparin-like substance. It also affects both release of mature virus from infected cell types and virulence. Thus, although non-essential for growth , gIII plays a central role in the biology of the virus. The primary attachment of a mutant, PrV2, which has an in-frame internal deletion and expresses a shortened version of gIII, and of wild-type (wt) virus, to MDBK cells has been shown to occur similarly. To ascertain whether different domains of gIII control of the expression of the different biological functions of the gIII protein, we have compared several aspects of virus-host cell interactions of PrV2, of a gIII-null virus, and of wt virus. Our results showed that the deletion of the internal segment of the gIII glycoprotein affects adsorption and virus release differently, i.e. that these two functions of gIII appear to be in dependent of each other. Furthermore, we observed that although the primary adsorption of PrV2 and wt virus to MDBK cells is similar, PrV2 behaved like a gIII-null mutant with respect to virulence. The apparent contradiction between these two findings was resolved when it was found that although PrV2 binds as well as does wt to some cell types, it binds poorly to other cell types. The functional importance of different domains of gIII in virus adsorption thus differs, depending on the cell type with which the virus interacts.


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