The role of polyhedrin in the occlusion of virions was studied by substituting two heterologous polyhedrin-coding sequences, one from a multiple-nucleocapsid (M) nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV) of Spodoptera exigua (Se) and one from a single-nucleocapsid (S) NPV of Buzura suppressaria (BusuNPV), into the genome of Autographa californica (Ac) MNPV. Both heterologous polyhedrin genes were highly expressed and polyhedra were produced in the nuclei of cells infected with the respective recombinant AcMNPVs. Polyhedra produced by the recombinant with BusuNPV polyhedrin showed normal occlusion of multiple-nucleocapsid virions and were equally as infectious to S. exigua larvae as were wild-type AcMNPV polyhedra. This indicates that virion occlusion is not specific with respect to whether the virions or polyhedrin are from an SNPV or MNPV. Polyhedra produced by the recombinant containing the SeMNPV polyhedrin had an altered morphology, being pyramidal rather than polyhedral in shape, and many fewer virions were occluded. These occlusion bodies were less infectious to S. exigua larvae than were those of wild-type AcMNPV. These results indicate that virion occlusion is a finely controlled process that is to some extent specific to the polyhedrin involved and may also require other viral or host factors for optimal morphogenesis.


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