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J Virol. 1988 Jul;62(7):2307-12.

Genetic evidence that the avian retrovirus DNA endonuclease domain of pol is necessary for viral integration.

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Institute for Molecular Virology, St. Louis University Medical Center, Missouri 63110.


We used in vitro mutagenesis in the 3' region of the avian retrovirus polymerase (pol) gene to genetically define the role of the DNA endonuclease domain. In-frame insertional mutations, which were dispersed throughout the 5' region of pp32, produced a series of five replication-deficient mutants. In contrast, a single point mutant (Ala----Pro) located 48 amino acids from the NH2 terminus of pp32 exhibited a delayed replication phenotype. Molecular analysis of this mutant demonstrated that upon infection it was capable of synthesizing both linear and circular species of unintegrated viral DNA. The levels of unintegrated viral DNA present in cells infected with the mutant virus were several times greater than wild-type levels. Quantitation of the amount of integrated viral genomes demonstrated that the mutant virus integrated viral DNA one-fifth as efficiently as wild-type virus. This single point mutation in the NH2 terminus of pp32 prevented efficient integration of viral DNA, with no apparent effect on viral DNA synthesis per se. Thus, the DNA endonuclease domain has been genetically defined as necessary for avian retrovirus integration.

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