Oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis was used to construct chimeric cDNAs that encode the extracellular and transmembrane domains of the vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (G) linked to the cytoplasmic domain of either the immunoglobulin mu membrane heavy chain, the hemagglutinin glycoprotein of influenza virus, or the small glycoprotein (p23) of infectious bronchitis virus. Biochemical analyses and immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that these hybrid genes were correctly expressed in eukaryotic cells and that the hybrid proteins were transported to the plasma membrane. The rate of transport to the Golgi complex of G protein with an immunoglobulin mu membrane cytoplasmic domain was approximately sixfold slower than G protein with its normal cytoplasmic domain. However, this rate was virtually identical to the rate of transport of micron heavy chain molecules measured in the B cell line WEHI 231. The rate of transport of G protein with a hemagglutinin cytoplasmic domain was threefold slower than wild type G protein and G protein with a p23 cytoplasmic domain, which were transported at similar rates. The combined results underscore the importance of the amino acid sequence in the cytoplasmic domain for efficient transport of G protein to the cell surface. Also, normal cytoplasmic domains from other transmembrane glycoproteins can substitute for the G protein cytoplasmic domain in transport of G protein to the plasma membrane. The method of constructing precise hybrid proteins described here will be useful in defining functions of specific domains of viral and cellular integral membrane proteins.

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