The cytomegalovirus (CMV) serine proteinase assemblin is synthesized as a precursor that undergoes three principal autoproteolytic cleavages. Two of these are common to the assemblin homologs of all herpes group viruses: one at the maturational site near the carboxyl end of the precursor and another at the release site near the midpoint of the precursor. Release-site cleavage frees the proteolytic amino domain, assemblin, from the nonproteolytic carboxyl domain of the precursor. In CMV, a third autoproteolytic cleavage at an internal site divides assemblin into an amino subunit (A(n)) and a carboxyl subunit (A(c)) of approximately the same size that remain associated as an active 'two-chain' enzyme. We have cloned the sequences encoding A(n) and A(c) as separate genes and expressed them by transfecting human cells with recombinant plasmids and by infecting insect cells with recombinant baculoviruses. When A(n) and A(c) from either simian CMV or human CMV were coexpressed in human or insect cells, active two- chain assemblin was formed. This finding demonstrates that A(n) and A(c) do not require synthesis as single-chain assemblin to fold and associate correctly in these eukaryotic systems, and it suggests that they may be structurally, if not functionally, distinct domains. An interaction between the independently expressed A(n) and A(c) subunits was demonstrated by coimmunoprecipitation experiments, and efforts to disrupt the complex indicate that the subunit interaction is hydrophobic. Cell-based cleavage assays of the two-chain assemblin formed from independently expressed A(n) and A(c) also indicate that (i) its specificity for both CMV and herpes simplex virus native substrates is similar to that of single-chain assemblin, (ii) R-site cleavage is not essential for the activity of two- chain recombinant assemblin, and (iii) the human CMV and simian CMV A(n) and A(c) recombinant subunits are functionally interchangeable.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science