Polyoma viral middle T-antigen is required for transformation.
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To determine whether small or middle T-antigen (or both) of polyoma virus is required for transformation, we constructed mutants of recombinant plasmids which bear the viral oncogene and measured the capacity of these mutants to transform rat cells in culture. Insertion and deletion mutations in sequences encoding small and middle T-antigens (79.7, 81.3, and 82.9 map units) rendered the DNA incapable of causing transformation by the focus assay. Similar mutations in sequences that encoded middle but not small T-antigen (89.7, 92.1, and 96.5 map units) generally abolished the transforming activity of the DNA. However, two mutants (pPdl1-4 and PPd12-7) that carried deletions at 92.1 map units retained the capacity to transform cells; pPdl1-4 did so at frequencies equal to those of the parental plasmid, whereas pPdl2-7 transformed at 10% the frequency of its antecedent. From these studies we conclude that small T-antigen alone is insufficient to cause transformation and that middle T-antigen is required for transformation, either in combination with small T-antigen or by itself.
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