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J Virol. 1996 November; 70(11): 8029–8040.
PMCID: PMC190876

Mutations in the carboxyl-terminal hydrophobic sequence of human cytomegalovirus glycoprotein B alter transport and protein chaperone binding.


Human cytomegalovirus glycoprotein B (gB) plays a role in the fusion of the virion envelope with the host cell membrane and in syncytium formation in infected cells. Hydrophobic sequences at the carboxyl terminus, amino acids (aa) 714 to 771, anchor gB in the lipid bilayer, but the unusual length of this domain suggests that it may serve another role in gB structure. To explore the function(s) of this region, we deleted aa 717 to 747 (gB deltaI mutation), aa 751 to 771 (gB deltaII mutation), and aa 717 to 772 (gB deltaI-II mutation) and constructed a substitution mutation, Lys-748 to Val (Lys748Val)-Asn749Ala-Pro750Ile (gB KNPm). Mutated forms of gB were expressed in U373 glioblastoma cells and subjected to analysis by flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, and immunoprecipitation. Mutations gB deltaI-II and gB deltaII alone caused secretion of gB into the medium, confirming that aa 751 to 771 function as a membrane anchor. In contrast, mutations gB deltaI and gB KNPm blocked cell surface expression and arrested gB transport in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Detailed examination of gB deltaI and gB KNPm with a panel of monoclonal antibodies showed that the mutated forms were indistinguishable from wild-type gB in conformation and formed oligomers; however, they remained sensitive to endoglycosidase H and did not undergo endoproteolytic cleavage. Analysis of protein complexes formed by gB and molecular chaperones in the ER showed that calnexin and calreticulin, lectin-like chaperones, bound equal amounts of uncleaved wild-type gB, gB deltaI, and gB KNPm, but the glucose-regulated proteins 78 (BiP) and 94 formed stable complexes only with the mutated forms, causing their retention in the ER. Our studies show that aa 714 to 750 are key residues in the architecture of gB molecules and that the ER chaperones, which facilitate gB folding and monitor the quality of glycoproteins, detect subtle changes in folding intermediates that are conferred by mutations in this region.

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