The E2 protein (422 amino acid residues long) of Semliki Forest virus is a spanning membrane protein which is made in the rough endoplasmic reticulum of the infected cell and transported to the cell surface. The cytoplasmic domain of this protein comprises 31 amino acid residues. We introduced deletions of various sizes into the gene region encoding this part of the protein molecule and analyzed the transport behavior of the mutant proteins. The deletions were made using exonuclease digestions of cloned cDNA encoding the E2 protein. When the mutated DNA molecules, engineered into an expression vector, were introduced into nuclei of baby hamster kidney 21 cells, membrane proteins with cytoplasmic deletions were expressed and routed to the cell surface in the same way as the wild-type protein. This suggests that the cytoplasmic domain of the E2 protein does not carry information that is needed for its transport from the rough endoplasmic reticulum to the cell surface.

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