The p10 gene of the Spodoptera littoralis (Spli) multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (MNPV) was identified. With a coding sequence of 315 nucleotides (nt), corresponding to a protein of 104 amino acids, the SpliMNPV p10 gene is the longest p10 gene known. This gene codes for a putative protein with an Mr of 11130 and was found to be most closely related to the Spodoptera exigua (Se) MNPV p10 (49.4% amino acid identity) and most distant from the Autographa californica (Ac) MNPV p10 (20.0% amino acid identity). Characterization of the protein's secondary structure and a comparison with other p10 protein species suggested that this p10 has an extended alpha-helical domain with high probability of forming a large coiled-coil structure. The p10 mRNA was about 1500 nt long, as determined by Northern blot analysis. Primer extension assay mapped three transcription start sites to a conserved baculovirus late promoter motif, TAAG. In the SpliMNPV genome, the p10 gene is not flanked by genes similar to p26 and p74, as found in SeMNPV, AcMNPV, Choristoneura fumiferana MNPV and Orgyia pseudotsugata MNPV. Instead, an open reading frame (ORF) of 945 bp is located downstream from the p10 gene and is followed by another ORF in opposite orientation, encoding the p74 protein. Upstream of the p10 sequences, an ORF of 552 bp was identified that potentially encodes a 184 amino acid protein of Mr 20925, which showed 52.2% identity with the encoded product of the SeMNPV xb187 gene.


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