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J Virol. 1997 September; 71(9): 6287–6295.
PMCID: PMC191901

Detection of an interaction between the HN and F proteins in Newcastle disease virus-infected cells.


For many paramyxoviruses, including Newcastle disease virus (NDV), syncytium formation requires the expression of both surface glycoproteins (HN and F) in the same cell, and evidence suggests that fusion involves a specific interaction between the HN and F proteins. Because a potential interaction in paramyxovirus-infected cells has never been demonstrated, such as interaction was explored by using coimmunoprecipitation and cross-linking. Both HN and F proteins could be precipitated with heterologous antisera after a 5-min radioactive pulse as well as after a 2-h chase in nonradioactive medium, but at low levels. Chemical cross-linking increased detection of complexes containing HN and F proteins at the cell surface. After cross-linking, intermediate- as well as high-molecular-weight species containing both proteins were precipitated with monospecific antisera. Precipitation of proteins with anti-HN after cross-linking resulted in the detection of complexes which electrophresed in the stacker region of the gel, from 160 to 300 kDa, at 150 kDa, and at 74 kDa. Precipitates obtained with anti-F after cross-linking contained species which migrated in the stacker region of the gel, between 160 and 300 kDa, at 120 kDa, and at 66 kDa. The three to four discrete complexes ranging in size from 160 to 300 kDa contained both HN and F proteins when precipitated with either HN or F antisera. That cross-linking of complexes containing both HN and F proteins was not simply a function of overexpression of viral glycoproteins at the cell surface was addressed by demonstrating cross-linking at early time points postinfection, when levels of viral surface glycoproteins are low. Use of cells infected with an avirulent strain of NDV showed that chemically cross-linked HN and F proteins were precipitated independent of cleavage of F0. Furthermore, under conditions that maximized HN protein binding to its receptor, there was no change in the percentages of HN and F0 proteins precipitated with heterologous antisera, but a decrease in F1 protein precipitated was observed upon attachment. These data argue that the HN and F proteins interact in the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Upon attachment of the HN protein to its receptor, the HN protein undergoes a conformational change which causes a conformational change in the associated F protein, releasing the hydrophobic fusion peptide into the target membrane and initiating fusion.

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