Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) consists of fusion (F), glyco (G), and small hydrophobic (SH) proteins as envelope proteins, and infects through cell fusion. F protein is expressed on the surface of infected cells, and induces cell fusion. In the present report, expression plasmids of the F, G and SH proteins were constructed and cell fusion activity was investigated under T7 RNA polymerase. F protein alone induced cell fusion at a lower concentration than previously reported, and co-expression of F and SH proteins induced cell fusion more efficiently than F protein alone. Palivizumab is the only prophylactic agent against RSV infection. Palivizumab-resistant strains having mutations of the F protein of K272E and S275F were reported. These mutations were introduced into an F-expression plasmid, and exhibited no inhibition of cell fusion with palivizumab. Among the RSV F protein mutants, N276S has been reported to have partial resistance against palivizumab, but the F expression plasmid with the N276S mutation showed a reduction in cell fusion in the presence of palivizumab, showing no resistance to palivizumab. The present expression system was useful for investigating the mechanisms of RSV cell fusion.
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