Cell specificity of transcription regulation by papovavirus T antigens and DNA replication.
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Simian virus 40 (SV40) and polyomavirus (Py) DNA replication require cellular proteins and a virus-encoded early gene product, large T antigen (SVT and PyT, respectively). Primate cells contain factors permissive for SV40 replication, whereas murine cells express those factors permissive for Py. We have compared the roles T antigen, cell permissiveness and replication play in transcription of SV40 and Py genes. We show that in their respectively permissive cells, SV40 replication causes a major shift in transcription initiation from the early to the late viral promoter, whereas when Py replicates a comparable shift does not occur. This difference is discussed in relation to differences in the organization of the origin and promoter region between these two papovaviruses. Reporter plasmids were constructed that carried both viral origins, one at the natural position in the promoter being tested and the other at a distal location. With the appropriate TAg, these vectors could be made to replicate in either primate (HeLa) or rodent (3T6) cells. The SV40 early to late shift occurred when replication was driven in HeLa cells, and was not seen on replicating templates in rodent cells. Thus, replication per se does not account for the shift. We show also that, like SVT, PyT is a potent activator of transcription, and that SVT and PyT can activate each other's late promoters independently of DNA replication, but only in cells permissive for DNA replication catalysed by the respective T antigen. Taken together, the data presented here suggest that papovaviruses may utilize permissive factors in transcription control mechanisms.
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