An inducible mammalian amber suppressor: Propagation of a poliovirus mutant
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We describe a general protocol for controlled gene amplification, which allows conditional expression of high levels of amber suppressor activity in monkey kidney cells, and we demonstrate its use in the genetic analysis of animal viruses by the generation and propagation of the first nonsense mutant of poliovirus. A human amber suppressor tRNASer gene linked to the SV40 origin of replication and a second DNA carrying a temperature-sensitive SV40 large T antigen gene were cotransfected into monkey cells. Cell lines having stably integrated the DNAs were isolated. Shifting the cells from the nonpermissive temperature to a lower permissive temperature caused the amplification of the suppressor tRNA gene, which resulted in suppression efficiencies at amber codons of 50%-70%, as measured by suppression of an amber codon in the E. coli chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene. A mutant of poliovirus, in which a serine codon in the replicase gene was converted to an amber codon, was efficiently propagated on the suppressor-positive cell lines. The mutant virus reverted to wild-type by a single base change to a serine codon at a frequency of approximately 2.5 x 10(-6), surprisingly low for a RNA genome.
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