A single-amino-acid substitution in polyomavirus VP1 correlates with plaque size and hemagglutination behavior.
The plaque size and hemagglutination characteristics of five cloned wild-type strains of polyomavirus were determined. The strains fell into two groups, thosewith large or small plaques, each with distinctive hemagglutination behavior at different temperatures and pHs. The nucleotide sequence of VP1, the major capsidprotein of the virus, was determined for each of the viral strains. The PTA (large-plaque) and RA (small-plaque) strains differed only at residue 92 of VP1,where there is a glutamic acid or glycine, respectively (R. Freund, A. Calderone, C. J. Dawe, and T. L. Benjamin, J. Virol. 65:335-341, 1991). The same amino aciddifference in VP1 correlated with plaque size and hemagglutination properties ofthe other sequenced viruses. Mutagenesis converting amino acid 92 from glutamic acid to glycine converted the plaque size and hemagglutination behavior of the large-plaque PTA strain to that of a small-plaque strain. Furthermore, PTA and RA VP1 proteins produced in Escherichia coli behaved as their parental viruses did in hemagglutination assays. These results demonstrate that amino acid residue 92of VP1 is involved in determining the plaque size and hemagglutination behavior of polyomavirus and strongly suggest that this region of the VP1 polypeptide interacts directly with cell receptors.