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J Biol Chem. 1992 Jul 15;267(20):14129-37.

The simian virus 40 T antigen double hexamer assembles around the DNA at the replication origin.

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Program in Molecular Biology, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


An initial step in the replication of simian virus (SV40) DNA is the ATP-dependent formation of a double hexamer of the SV40 large tumor (T) antigen at the SV40 DNA replication origin. In the absence of DNA, T antigen assembled into hexamers in the presence of magnesium and ATP. Hexameric T antigen was stable and could be isolated by glycerol gradient centrifugation. The ATPase activities of hexameric and monomeric T antigen isolated from parallel glycerol gradients were identical. However, while monomeric T antigen was active in the ATP-dependent binding, untwisting, unwinding, and replication of SV40 origin-containing DNA, hexameric T antigen was inactive in these reactions. Isolated hexamers incubated at 37 degrees C in the presence of ATP remained intact, but dissociated into monomers when incubated at 37 degrees C in the absence of ATP. This dissociation restored the activity of these preparations in the DNA replication reaction, indicating that hexameric T antigen is not permanently inactivated but merely assembled into a nonproductive structure. We propose that the two hexamers of T antigen at the SV40 origin assemble around the DNA from monomer T antigen in solution. This complex untwists the DNA at the origin, melting specific DNA sequences. The resulting single-stranded regions may be utilized by the T antigen helicase activity to initiate DNA unwinding bidirectionally from the origin.

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