Ten mutations were generated in the gene of Moloney murine leukaemia virus DNA. The mutations were made by site-directed mutagenesis to alter basic amino acids (lysine or arginine) in the surface glycoprotein gp70. Mutants were investigated following transfection into NIH/3T3 cells. All 10 mutants released virion particles into the medium, suggesting that none of the mutations affected overall viral gene expression or virion budding. Two mutants were positive in XC plaque assay, reverse transcriptase assay and re-infection experiments, showing that these mutations occurred in parts of the molecule not essential for infection. Three mutants were negative in both the XC plaque assay and re-infection experiments, suggesting that they make non-infectious virus particles. The results indicate a defect in the early phase of infection, perhaps in receptor binding or in the fusion of virion and host membranes. The other mutations resulted in reduced infectivity of released virion particles.


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