We have determined the exact splicing patterns of the mRNAs of the minute virus of mice by a combination of cDNA sequencing and S1 nuclease protection analysis. There are four virus-specific mRNA species, each coding for one of the four polypeptides identified by in vitro translation. The R1 mRNA comprises sequences from nucleotide approximately 200 to 2281 and from 2378 to approximately 4800 and codes for the NS1 protein. The R2 mRNA is derived from nucleotides approximately 200 to 515, 1991 to 2281, and 2378 to approximately 4800 and codes for the NS2 protein. Between nucleotides 1991 and 2281, the coding sequence for NS2 overlaps that of NS1, but in a different reading frame. R3 covers nucleotides approximately 2007 to 2281 and 2378 to approximately 4800 and codes for VP2. The fourth species, R3', differs from R3 by using an alternative splice donor and acceptor in the region around 47 map units (nucleotide 2400); it extends from nucleotide approximately 2007 to 2317 and from 2400 to approximately 4800 and almost certainly codes for VP1. The R2 transcript is unusual in that the intron that was removed from it (nucleotides 516 to 1990) starts with GC rather than the canonical GU. With the exception of the splice acceptor at position 2378, which is found only in rodent parvoviruses, the splice junctions are highly conserved among autonomous parvoviruses. These results show that minute virus of mice, like other small DNA viruses, uses multiple strategies to compress the coding information for several viral proteins into a short (5,104 nucleotide) genome
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