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J Virol. 1991 February; 65(2): 813–822.
PMCID: PMC239821

Complementation between avirulent Newcastle disease virus and a fusion protein gene expressed from a retrovirus vector: requirements for membrane fusion.


The cDNA derived from the fusion gene of the virulent AV strain of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) was expressed in chicken embryo cells by using a retrovirus vector. The fusion protein expressed in this system was transported to the cell surface and was efficiently cleaved into the disulfide-linked F1-F2 form found in infectious virions. The cells expressing the fusion gene grew normally and could be passaged many times. Monolayers of these cells would plaque, in the absence of trypsin, avirulent NDV strains (strains which encode a fusion protein which is not cleaved in tissue culture). Fusion protein-expressing cells would not fuse if mixed with uninfected cells or uninfected cells expressing the hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) protein. However, the fusion protein-expressing cells, if infected with avirulent strains of NDV, would fuse with uninfected cells, suggesting that fusion requires both the fusion protein and another viral protein expressed in the same cell. Fusion was also seen after transfection of the HN protein gene into fusion protein-expressing cells. Thus, the expressed fusion protein gene is capable of complementing the virus infection, providing an active cleaved fusion protein required for the spread of infection. However, the fusion protein does not mediate cell fusion unless the cell also expresses the HN protein. Fusion protein-expressing cells would not plaque influenza virus in the absence of trypsin, nor would influenza virus-infected fusion protein-expressing cells fuse with uninfected cells. Thus, the influenza virus HA protein will not substitute for the NDV HN protein in cell-to-cell fusion.

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