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The Lymantria dispar multinucleocapsid nuclear polyhedrosis virus (LdMNPV) gene encoding vPK has been cloned and sequenced. LdMNPV vPK shows a 24% amino acid identity to the catalytic domains of the eucaryotic protein kinases nPKC from rabbits, HSPKCE from humans, APLPKCB from Aplysia californica, and dPKC98F from Drosophila melanogaster, and homology to several other protein kinases from yeasts, mice, and bovines. The homology suggests that vPK is a serine/threonine protein kinase as defined by Hanks et al. (S. K. Hanks, A. M. Quinn, and T. Hunter, Science 241:42-52, 1988). Temporal expression studies indicate that vPK is expressed throughout the infection cycle beginning at 4 h postinfection, first as a delayed-early gene and subsequently as a late gene. Sequence analysis and primer extension reactions confirm the presence of distinct early and late transcription initiation regions. Expression of vPK with a rabbit reticulocyte system generated a 31-kDa protein, which is in close agreement with the predicted size of 32 kDa from the amino acid sequence. Phosphorylation activity of in vitro-expressed vPK was demonstrated by using calf thymus histones.