GP64 of group I nucleopolyhedroviruses cannot readily rescue infectivity of group II f-null nucleopolyhedroviruses.
ABSTRACT The genus Nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV) of the family Baculoviridae can be subdivided phylogenetically into two groups. The same division can be made on the basis of their budded virus (BV) envelope fusion protein. Group I NPVs are characterized by the presence of a GP64-like major envelope fusion protein, which is involved in viral attachment and the fusion of virus and cell membrane, and is required for budding of progeny nucleocapsids. Group II NPVs have an envelope fusion protein unrelated to GP64, named F. In contrast to GP64, F proteins are found in all baculoviruses, but they are not functional as envelope fusion proteins in group I NPVs. Autographa californica multiple NPV (AcMNPV) lacking GP64 can be pseudotyped by the F protein of Spodoptera exigua multiple NPV (SeMNPV), suggesting that F proteins are functionally analogous to GP64. GP64 homologues are thought to have been acquired by group I NPVs during evolution, thereby giving these viruses a selective advantage and obviating the need for a functional F protein. To address this supposition experimentally, attempts were made to pseudotype a group II NPV, SeMNPV, with GP64. Transfection of an f-null SeMNPV bacmid into Se301 cells did not result in the production of infectious BVs. This defect was rescued by insertion of SeMNPV f, but not by insertion of AcMNPV gp64. This suggests that the functional analogy between GP64 and F is not readily reciprocal and that F proteins from group II NPVs may provide additional functions in BV formation that are lacking in the GP64 type of fusion protein.