The vaccinia virus A41L protein is a soluble 30 kDa glycoprotein that affects virus virulence
Ng A., Tscharke DC., Reading PC., Smith GL.
Vaccinia virus (VV) gene A41L encodes an acidic protein with amino acid similarity to the 35 kDa protein of VV strain Lister, a soluble protein called vCKBP that binds CC chemokines, and to a protein from orf virus, called GIF, that binds GM-CSF and IL-2. However, despite the similarity, recombinant A41L protein was found not to bind these ligands or a variety of other chemoattractant molecules when tested using surface plasmon resonance. The A41L gene is expressed early and late during infection and encodes a 30 kDa protein that contains bothN- andO-linked carbohydrate and is secreted from the infected cell. All 16 strains of VV and 2 strains of cowpox virus that were tested express the A41L protein, implying it has an important function for orthopoxviruses. Nonetheless, a VV strain Western Reserve deletion mutant lacking the A41L gene (vΔA41L) formed normal sized plaques and replicated to the same titre as wild-type and revertant viruses. The importance of the A41L proteinin vivowas demonstrated in a mouse intradermal model in which infection with vΔA41L caused more severe lesions compared to wild-type and revertant viruses. Further examination in this model revealed that deletion of A41L enhanced clearance of infectious virus, suggesting that A41L expression reduces immunopathology. Consistent with this, histological examination of infected rabbit skin showed that the A41L protein could reduce the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the infected area. Together, these data suggest that the A41L protein constitutes a novel immunomodulatory protein.