The post-translational processing of the influenza C virus glycoprotein HEF was analysed. In cells infected with influenza C virus, HEF protein is synthesized as a glycosylated 80K polypeptide. A post-translational conformational rearrangement involving the formation of intramolecular disulphide bonds results in a decrease in its electrophoretic mobility. Therefore, SDS-PAGE under non-reducing conditions suggests an of about 100K, whereas under reducing conditions an 80K protein is observed which is in accordance with the sequence data. The 100K form was detected 10 min after synthesis of HEF, and transport to the cell surface took about 60 min. This result indicates that the conformational change presumably occurs in the endoplasmic reticulum. A difference in post-translational processing was observed when the HEF gene was expressed in the absence of other influenza C virus genes. In cells infected with recombinant simian virus 40, the 80K precursor was synthesized, but this protein was neither converted to the 100K form nor transported to the cell surface. Deletion of the short cytoplasmic tail of HEF (Arg-Thr-Lys) or replacement of the two basic amino acids by hydrophobic (Ile) or acidic residues (Glu) resulted in HEF protein which was partially converted to the 100K form. Influenza C virus glycoprotein obtained after transient expression of the HEF gene using the vaccinia virus system was completely converted to the 100K form. However, in neither expression system was HEF transported to the cell surface. The possibility is discussed that the interaction of HEF with another viral protein is required for the post-translational folding and transport of this glycoprotein. The M protein of influenza C virus is suggested as a candidate for the chaperone which might interact with the cytoplasmic tail of HEF.


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