Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) belongs to the family Caliciviridae. Studies on this virus are hampered by the lack of a convenient cell culture system. To study viral protein expression a cDNA construct containing the entire protein-coding region of the virus was established and used for transient expression studies. After metabolic labeling of transfected cells and immunoprecipitation with a set of RHDV-specific antisera a variety of polypeptides were identified and assigned to defined regions of the viral genome. The consensus sequences of already identified or putative proteolytic cleavage sites in the viral polyprotein were changed by the introduction of mutations into the expression construct. Expression of these mutated constructs and analysis of the protein patterns allowed us to identify novel cleavage sites in the polyprotein and revealed the first details regarding the order of polyprotein processing.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.