Effect of foot-and-mouth disease virus capsid precursor protein and 3C protease expression on bovine herpesvirus 1 replication
Several reports have previously shown that expression of the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) capsid precursor protein encoding region P1-2A together with the 3C protease (P1-2A/3C) results in correct processing of the capsid precursor into VP0, VP1 and VP3 and formation of FMDV capsid structures that are able to induce a protective immune response against FMDV challenge after immunization using naked DNA constructs or recombinant viruses. To elucidate whether bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1) might also be suitable as a viral vector for empty capsid generation, we aimed to integrate a P1-2A/3C expression cassette into the BHV-1 genome, which, however, failed repeatedly. In contrast, BHV-1 recombinants that expressed an inactive 3C protease or the P1-2A polyprotein alone could be easily generated, although the recombinant that expressed P1-2A exhibited a defect in direct cell-cell spread and release of infectious particles. These results suggested that expression of the original, active FMDV 3C protease is not compatible with BHV-1 replication. This conclusion is supported by the isolation of recombinant BHV-1/3C*, which contained mutations within the 3C ORF (3C* ORF)-probably introduced spontaneously during generation of BHV-1/3C*-instead of the authentic 3C ORF contained in the transfer plasmids. Within the 3C* ORF, the codons for glycine 38 and phenylalanine 48 were both substituted by codons for serine. The resulting 3C* protease exhibits a highly reduced activity for proteolytic processing of the P1-2A polyprotein and thus might be a good candidate for the generation of live attenuated FMDV variants.