The alphavirus Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infects cells through low-pH-induced membrane fusion mediated by the E1 protein, a class II virus membrane fusion protein. During fusion, E1 inserts into target membranes via its hydrophobic fusion loop and refolds to form a stable E1 homotrimer. Mutation of a highly conserved histidine (the H230A mutation) within a loop adjacent to the fusion loop was previously shown to block SFV fusion and infection, although the mutant E1 protein still inserts into target membranes and forms a homotrimer. Here we report on second-site mutations in E1 that rescue the H230A mutant. These mutations were located in a cluster within the hinge region, at the membrane-interacting tip, and within the groove where the E1 stem is believed to pack. Together the revertants reveal specific and interconnected aspects of the fusion protein refolding reaction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science