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Keywords:

  • morphogenesis;
  • immunoblot;
  • proteins VPO and PX

Abstract

The morphogenetic pathway of hepatitis A virus (HAV), classified as a member of the enteroviruses within the Picornaviridae, still remains obscure and seems to differ considerably from that of poliovirus, the most studied representative of this genus. In order to elucidate the precursor/product relationship of HAV structural proteins, subviral particles, which represent more than 50% of the viral antigen produced in infected cells, were separated from mature virions and their polypeptide pattern was analyzed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting using monospecific antisera. Whereas mature virions are composed of viral proteins VP1, VP2, and VP3, subviral particles contained VP0 and smaller polypeptides instead of VP2. Comparison of proteins of different strains of HAV showed that VP0 of strain HAS-15 migrated slower than that of strains MBB or GBM. During the course of the infectious cycle, VP0 accumulated and only small portions were converted to VP2 supporting earlier observations that encapsidation of RNA with concomitant cleavage of VP0 is rate-limiting, leaving a large amount of viral antigen in premature particles. Similar to VP0, accumulation of VP1 was observed and two immunologically related precursor proteins, p38 and p36, were found during the course of infection. Immunological characterization of p38 using antisera directed to the N-terminus of VP1 and to synthetic peptides located at the presumptive C- and N-termini of 2A suggests that p38 is VP1Δ2A carrying 45 N-terminal amino acids of the P2-region. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.