MPMV precursor polypeptide Pr78Gag orchestrates assembly and packaging of genomic RNA (gRNA) into virus particles. Therefore, we have expressed recombinant full-length Pr78Gag either with or without His6-tag in bacterial as well as eukaryotic cultures and purified the recombinant protein from soluble fractions of the bacterial cultures. The recombinant Pr78Gag protein has the intrinsic ability to assemble in vitro to form virus like particles (VLPs). Consistent with this observation, the recombinant protein could form VLPs in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. VLPs formed in eukaryotic cells by recombinant Pr78Gag with or without His6-tag can encapsidate MPMV transfer vector RNA, suggesting that the inclusion of the His6-tag to the full-length Pr78Gag did not interfere with its expression or biological function. This study demonstrates the expression and purification of a biologically active, recombinant Pr78Gag, which should pave the way to study RNA-protein interactions involved in the MPMV gRNA packaging process.
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