Vaccinia virus A6L is a previously uncharacterized gene that is conserved in all sequenced vertebrate poxviruses. Here, we constructed a recombinant vaccinia virus encoding A6 with an epitope tag and showed that A6 was expressed in infected cells after viral DNA replication and packaged in the core of the mature virion. Furthermore, we showed that A6 was essential for vaccinia virus replication by performing clustered charge-to-alanine mutagenesis on A6, which resulted in two vaccinia virus mutants (vA6L-mut1 and vA6L-mut2) that displayed a temperature-sensitive phenotype. At 31°C, both mutants replicated efficiently; however, at 40°C, vA6L-mut1 grew to a low titer, while vA6L-mnt2 failed to replicate. The A6 protein expressed by vA6L-mut2 exhibited temperature-dependent instability. At the nonpermissive temperature, vA6L-mut2 was normal at viral gene expression and viral factory formation, but it was defective for proteolytk processing of the precursors of several major virion proteins, a defect that is characteristic of a block in virion morphogenesis. Electron microscopy further showed that the morphogenesis of vA6L-mut2 was arrested before the formation of immature virion with nucleoid and mature virion. Taken together, our data show that A6 is a virion core protein that plays an essential role in virion morphogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science