Kinetic studies of the accumulation of early and late transcripts, early and late proteins, genomes, and live virus, during the lytic cycle of murine polyomavirus wild-type A2, were carried out in synchronized NIH 3T3 cells released from G0 by the addition of serum after infection. This first-time simultaneous analysis of all parameters of the virus life cycle led to new insights concerning the transcriptional control at the early-to-late transition. During the early phase, early transcripts were synthesized at very low levels, detectable only by reverse transcription-PCR, from 6 h postinfection (hpi). Large T protein could be detected by 8 hpi (while infected cells were in the G1 phase). The level of expression of the middle T and small T proteins was lower than that of large T at all times, due, at least in part, to a splicing preference for the large-T 5′ splice site at nucleotide 411. A large increase in the level of both early and late transcripts coincided closely with the detection in mid-S phase of viral genome amplification. Thereafter, both classes of transcripts continued to further accumulate up to the end of the experiments (48 hpi). In addition, during the late phase, “giant” multigenomic transcripts were synthesized from the early as well as the late promoter. Thus, a major type of transcriptional control appears to be applied similarly to the transcription of both early and late genes. This view differs from that in the literature, which highlights the enhancement of late transcription and the repression of early transcription. However, despite this parallel transcriptional control, additional regulations are applied which result in higher levels of late compared to early transcripts, as previously described. In the accompanying article, a key role for middle T and/or small T in this late-phase enhancement of early and late transcription is demonstrated (16). Other novel findings, e.g., the synthesis of a very abundant short early promoter proximal RNA, are also described
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