A series of murine leukemia viruses (MuLVs) with chimeric envelope proteins (Env) was generated to map functional interactions between the N- and the C-terminal domains of surface proteins (SU). All these chimeras have the 4070A amphotropic receptor-binding region flanked by various lengths of Moloney ecotropic N- and C-terminal Env. A charged residue, E49 (E16 on the mature protein), was identified at the N-terminals of Moloney MuLV SU that is important for the interaction with the C-terminal domain of the SU. The region that interacts with E49 was localized between junction 4 (R265 of M-MuLV Env) and junction 6 (L374 of M-MuLV Env) of SU. Sequencing the viable chimeric Env virus populations identified residues within the SU protein that improved the replication kinetics of the input chimeric Env viruses. Mutations in the C-domain of SU (G387E/R, L435I, L442P) were found to improve chimera IV4, which displayed a delayed onset of replication. The replication of AE6, containing a chimeric junction in the SU C-terminus, was improved by mutations in the N-domain (N40H, E80K), the proline-rich region (Q252R), or the transmembrane protein (L538N). Altogether, these observations provide insights into the structural elements required for Env function.
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