A series of plasmids expressing fusions between the gene product, anthranilate synthase component I and the major immunogen (VP1) of foot and mouth disease virus were constructed such that increasing amounts of the 3′ end of were deleted. Deletions removing up to 70% of had little effect on the quantity of fusion protein expressed, while the number of molecules appeared to increase. Larger deletions led to a steady decrease in both the quantity of fusion protein produced and in the number of molecules. This is consistent with being responsible for the high levels of expression of VP1 by its gene product stabilizing VP1 against proteolytic degradation. Some out-of-frame deletion mutants were also produced. All deletion mutants in one wrong reading frame expressed low levels of two VP1-containing polypeptides. This observation is interpreted as being due to re-initiation of translation at a site inside the VP1 sequence which is activated by local termination of translation.


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