A gene encoding a capsid-associated viral structural protein has been identified and sequenced in the genome of the Choristoneura fumiferana multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (CfMNPV). The gene has a 1872 nucleotide open reading frame (ORF) encoding 624 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 71.4 kDa. Transcription, which appeared to be initiated from a conserved GTAAG motif of baculovirus late genes, was detected at 12 h, reached a maximum at 48 h and declined at 72 h post-infection (p.i.). Part of the ORF was cloned in frame into a prokaryotic expression vector, pMAL-c2, and the fusion protein was used to generate antibodies in rabbits. It was shown, with the aid of the polyclonal antiserum, that this viral protein was detectable at 24 h p.i. in infected cells. The protein appeared as an 82 kDa band in occlusion-derived virus and as an 82 kDa band and a 72 kDa band in budded virus. Amino acid sequence comparisons revealed that this ORF had high homology with the ORF p87 (77% similarity) of Orgyia pseudotsugata (Op) MNPV and the ORF p80 (60% similarity) of Autographa californica (Ac) MNPV. Immunoblots confirmed that the CfMNPV protein had antigenic similarities to the P87 protein of OpMNPV, but not to the P80 of AcMNPV.


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