The measles virus (MV) haemagglutinin (HA) is a class 2 glycoprotein by means of which the virus particle attaches to the host cell receptor. We have previously expressed this glycoprotein as a vaccinia recombinant virus and have shown that the HA glycoprotein synthesized is indistinguishable from that coded by MV. In the present study, we report that in RK13 cells a soluble form (sHA) of the HA is secreted into the medium. We show by SDS-PAGE and sucrose density gradient centrifugation that the sHA is a dimer and is smaller than the cell-associated form. Using a variety of inhibitors the production of sHA was shown to be a late event, probably occurring at the membrane; only fully glycosylated molecules were found in sHA. Finally, we demonstrate that sHA retains its antigenicity with conformation-dependent MAbs and its receptor recognition function. We conclude that sHA is a valuable tool for use in studies of the structure and function of the MV HA glycoprotein.


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