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A Lymantria dispar nuclear polyhedrosis virus (LdMNPV) gene has been identified that encodes a homolog to the granulovirus (GV) enhancin proteins that are capable of enhancing the infection of other baculoviruses. Enhancin genes have been identified and sequenced for three species of GVs but have not been found in any other nuclear polyhedrosis virus to date. The LdMNPV enhancin gene is located between 67.6 and 70.1 kbp on the viral genome. Northern and primer extension analyses of viral RNAs indicate that the enhancin gene transcripts are expressed at late times postinfection from a consensus baculovirus late promoter. The LdMNPV enhancin exhibits 29% amino acid identity to the enhancin proteins of the Trichoplusia ni, Pseudaletia unipuncta, and Helicoverpa armigera GVs. All four proteins contain a conserved zinc-binding domain characteristic of metalloproteases. A recombinant virus (enhancin::cat) was constructed in which the LdMNPV enhancin gene was inactivated by insertion mutagenesis in order to ascertain the effect of the enhancin protein on viral potency. The bioassay results indicate that disruption of the enhancin gene in the LdMNPV results in a reduction in viral potency.