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J Virol. 1997 Sep;71(9):6479-85.

Cyclin-dependent kinase regulation of the replication functions of polyomavirus large T antigen.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


The amino-terminal portion of polyomavirus (Py) large T antigen (T Ag) contains two phosphorylation sites, at T187 and T278, which are potential substrates for cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Our experiments were designed to test whether either or both of these sites are involved in the origin DNA (ori DNA) replication function of Py T Ag. Mutations were generated in Py T Ag whereby either or both threonines were replaced with alanine, generating T187A, T278A, and double-mutants (DM [T187A T278A]) mutant T Ags. We found that the Py ori DNA replication functions of T278A and DM, but not T187A, mutant T Ags were abolished both in vivo and in vitro. Consistent with this finding, it was shown that the ori DNA binding and unwinding activities of mutant T278A Py T Ag were greatly impaired. Moreover, whereas wild-type Py T Ag is an efficient substrate for phosphorylation by cyclin A-CDK2 and cyclin B-cdc2 complexes, it is phosphorylated poorly by a cyclin E-CDK2 complex. In contrast to mutant T187A, which behaved similarly to the wild-type protein, T278A was only weakly phosphorylated by cyclin B-cdc2. These data thus suggest that T278 is an important site on Py T Ag for phosphorylation by CDKs and that loss of this site leads to its various defects in mediating ori DNA replication. S- and G2-phase-specific CDKs, but not a G1-specific CDK, can phosphorylate wild-type T Ag, which suggests yet another reason why DNA tumor viruses require actively cycling host cells.

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