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Avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is one of the major viral respiratory diseases of chickens. Better understanding of the molecular mechanism of viral pathogenesis may contribute significantly to the development of prophylactic, therapeutic and diagnostic reagents as well as help in infection control. Avian IBV belongs to the Coronaviridaes and is similar to the other known coronaviruses. Previous studies have indicated that protein–protein interactions between nucleocapsid (N) and the membrane (M) proteins in coronavirus are related to coronavirus viral assembly. However, cases of IBV are seldom reported. In this study, yeast two-hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation techniques were applied to investigate possible interactions between IBV N and M proteins. We found that interaction of the N and M proteins took place in vivo and the residues 168 – 225 of the M protein and the residues 150 - 210 of the N protein were determined to be involved in their interaction. These results may provide some useful information on the molecular mechanism of IBV’s N and M proteins, which will facilitate therapeutic strategies aiming at the disruption of the association between membrane and nucleocapsid proteins and indicate a new drug target for IBV.
Key words: Co-immunoprecipitation, membrane protein, nucleocapsid protein, protein-protein interaction, yeast two-hybrid.