To investigate the regulation of p10 and polyhedron envelope protein (PEP) gene expression and their role in polyhedron development, multinucleocapsid nuclear polyhedrosis viruses lacking these genes were constructed. Recombinant viruses were produced, in which the p10 gene, the PEP gene or both genes were disrupted with the β-glucuronidase (GUS) or β-galactosidase () genes. GUS activity under the control of the PEP protein promoter was observed later in infection and its maximal expression was less than 10% the level for p10 promoter-GUS constructs. Tissues from larvae infected with these recombinants were examined by electron microscopy. Cells from insects infected with the p10 viruses lacked p10-associated fibrillar structures, but fragments of polyhedron envelope-like structures were observed on the surface of some polyhedra. Immunogold labelling of cells infected with the p10GUS virus with an antibody directed against PEP showed that the PEP was concentrated at the surface of polyhedra. Although polyhedra produced by p10 and PEP gene deletion mutants demonstrated what appeared to be a polyhedron envelope by transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy showed that they had irregular, pitted surfaces that were different from wild-type polyhedra. These data suggested that both p10 and PEP are important for the proper formation of the periphery of polyhedra.


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