Distinct functional domains in the nuclear polyhedrosis virus p10 protein were identified by analysis of p10 mutants. When up to 15 amino acids from the carboxy terminus were deleted, truncated p10 proteins were found in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm of infected cells, but formed no fibrillar structures. This suggested that the positively charged carboxy terminus is not required for nuclear or cytoplasmic localization of p10 protein, but is involved in protein-protein interactions leading to assembly of the p10 protein into fibrillar structures. Absence of the p10 protein prevented the release of polyhedra from infected cells, caused by impaired nuclear disintegration. This function of the p10 protein appears to be located between amino acid residues 52 and 79. The aminoterminal half of the p10 protein has already been implicated in the self-aggregation of this protein. Thus fibrillar structure formation, nuclear disintegration and intermolecular p10 protein interactions seem to be three separate functions of the p10 protein and these functions are located in distinct domains of the protein. The mutants expressing truncated p10 proteins were impaired in electron-dense spacer formation but polyhedron envelopes were still formed. This result suggested that the formation of electron-dense spacers is not a prerequisite for the formation of polyhedron envelopes.


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