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Virus Res. 1992 Sep 15;25(3):169-87.

Host range analysis of a chimeric simian virus 40 genome containing the BKV capsid genes.

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  • 1Department of Cellular, Viral and Molecular Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84148.


Simian virus 40 (SV40) propagates poorly in cells from human embryonic kidney (HEK) and human fetal fibroblasts (HFF) while BK virus grows well in many human cell types. It has been suggested that sequences within the SV40 late region but not within the BKV late region may act to inhibit growth of virus in HEK and HFF cells. In order to test this and to identify a late region host range function, we have replaced the late region of wtSV40 DNA with the late region of RFV (a variant of BKV) to produce an intermolecular hybrid or chimera. The constructed SV40/RFV chimeric genome contained approx. 5900 base pairs, more than 650 base pairs greater than wtSV40. Nevertheless, when introduced by transfection the chimera appeared to be infectious. Three chimeric genomes were recovered from infected cells and all contained deletions of nearly 600 base pairs, exclusively at the region of the 3' terminal junction. Since all three chimeras propagated in human HFF and HEK cells, the RFV late region and not the RFV regulatory region possesses a host range function required for growth in human cells. Analysis of T-antigen gene expression suggests that the replacement of the SV40 late region with the BKV late region leads to full expression of the SV40 early region in human cells. Two chimeras exhibited a BKV-like host range and the third exhibited both a BKV and an SV40-like host range. We determined precisely which sequences were deleted in each chimera and we exchanged 3' terminal junction fragments containing these deletions, between two chimeras with different host ranges. From these experiments we demonstrated that: (1) The 3' terminus of the SV40 large T-antigen gene is required for growth of SV40/RFV in TC-7 and CV-1 simian cells but not for growth in human cells; (2) while the SV40 late region is refractory for growth in human cells, the RFV late region is not refractory for growth in simian cells; (3) the 3' terminus of the RFV T-antigen gene is not required for growth in human cells. The results of the 3' terminal junction exchanges and studies of early gene expression also demonstrate that BKV and SV40 can penetrate human and simian cells, even when they failed to grow in one cell type.

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