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Cell. 1976 Nov;9(3):481-7.

Location of the sequences coding for capsid proteins VP1 and VP2 on polyoma virus DNA.


The 19S and 16S polyoma virus late mRNAs have been separated on sucrose-formamide density gradients and translated in vitro. The 16S RNA codes only for polyoma capsid protein VP1, while the 19S RNA codes in addition for capsid protein VP2. Since the 19S and 16S species have been previously mapped on the viral genome, these results allow us to deduce the location of the sequences coding for VP1 and VP2. Comparison of the chain lengths of the capsid proteins with the size of the viral mRNAs coding for them suggests that VP1 and VP2 are entirely virus-coded. Purified polyoma 19S RNA directs the synthesis of very little VP1 in vitro, although it contains all the sequences required to code for the protein. The initiation site for VP1 synthesis which is located at an internal position on the messenger is probably inactive either because it is inaccessible or because it lacks an adjacent "capped" 5' terminus. Similar inactive internal initiation sites have been reported for other eucarotic viral mRNAs (for example, Semliki forest virus, Brome mosaic virus, and tobacco mosaic virus), suggesting that while eucaryotic mRNAs may have more than one initiation site for protein synthesis, only those sites nearer the 5' terminus of the mRNA are active.

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