Scientific article
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The tumor antigens and the early functions of polyoma virus

ContributorsTurler, Hans
Published inMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry, vol. 32, no. 2, p. 63-93
Publication date1980

Polyoma virus (Py) tumor (T) antigens are the proteins specified by the early region of the viral genome. They are responsible for most biological effects caused by this oncogenic virus, i.e. induction of tumors, cell transformation and most of the virus-induced events observed in productive and transforming infection. By immunoprecipitation with antitumor serum followed by gel electrophoresis three major Py T-antigens have been characterized: large Tantigen (IT) with an apparent MT of about 100 000, middle T-antigen (mT) of about 55 000 Mr and small T-antigen (sT) of about 23 000 Mr. In addition, there may exist one or more minor species by Py T-antigens. Analysis of the tryptic peptides showed that IT, mT and sT have a common N-terminal amino acid sequence, but differ from each other in the size and the sequence of the C-terminal part of the molecule as a consequence of different splicing of their mRNAs. With the nucleotide sequence of the Py genome being known, the coding regions for each of the Py T-antigens have been identified and consequently the amino acid sequence of IT, mT and sT was deduced. Cell fractionation experiments showed that the major part of 1T is located in the nucleus, mT was found in plasma membranes and sT is mainly present in the cytoplasm. Large T is a phosphoprotein and undergoes posttranslational modification. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of Py T-antigens revealed considerable charge heterogeneity particularly for mT and sT. All Py transformed cell lines analyzed contained mT and sT. Large T was not detected in virtually all Py transformed mouse cell lines and in about one third of Py transformed rat and hamster cell lines. Instead of 1T often new immunoreactive proteins were found which are probably truncated forms of 1T. These and other recent results suggest that IT is required neither for initiation nor for maintenance of cell transformation. For tumor induction in hamsters, similar conclusions were reached from analysis of Py T-antigens and viral DNA sequences in cell lines derived from tumors that had been induced either by virus or by viral DNA digested with various restriction enzymes. Experiments done with several deletion mutants indicated that mT is required for cell transformation by Py. In a protein kinase assay done in vitro with Py T-antigen immunoprecipitates, a kinase activity associated with Py mT was found which phosphorylates tyrosine residues mainly of mT and less frequently of 1T and of rat immunoglobulins. In all transformation defective mutants, kinase activity measured by this assay was absent or strongly reduced. In a concluding chapter I discuss the events occurring in wild-type virus and mutant infected cells trying to attribute specific functions to each of the three Py T-antigens. At least two functions are known for 1T, one is initiation of viral DNA replication, the other induces a mitotic response of the host cell, i.e. the events leading to and including host chromatin duplication. Middle T-antigen is certainly involved in cell transformation, possibly by its presence in the membrane. No function has been defined yet for sT. Since there are more virus-induced events observed in infected cells than Py T-antigens at least one of them must be a multifunctional protein.

  • Cell transformation
  • Polyoma virus
  • Charge heterogeneity
  • Hamster cell line
  • Phosphorylates tyrosine residue
Citation (ISO format)
TURLER, Hans. The tumor antigens and the early functions of polyoma virus. In: Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 1980, vol. 32, n° 2, p. 63–93. doi: 10.1007/BF00227801
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0300-8177

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