We have recently shown that a newly isolated avian sarcoma virus, UR2, is defective in replication and contains no sequences homologous to the src gene of Rous sarcoma virus. In this study, we analyzed the genetic structure and transforming sequence of UR2 by oligonucleotide fingerprinting. The sizes of the genomic RNAs of UR2 and its associated helper virus, UR2AV, were determined to be 24S and 35S, respectively, by sucrose gradient sedimentation. The molecular weight of the 24S UR2 genomic RNA was estimated to be 1.1 x 10(6), corresponding to 3,300 nucleotides, by gel electrophoresis under the native and denatured conditions. RNase T1 oligonucleotide mapping indicated that UR2 RNA contains seven unique oligonucleotides in the middle of the genome and shares eight 5'- and six 3'-terminal oligonucleotides with UR2AV RNA. From these data, we estimated that UR2 RNA contains a unique sequence of about 12 kilobases in the middle of the genome, and contains 1.4 and 0.7 kilobases of sequences shared with UR2AV RNA at the 5' and 3' ends, respectively. Partial sequence analysis of the UR2-specific oligonucleotides by RNase A digestion revealed that there are no homologous counterparts to these oligonucleotides in the RNAs of other avian sarcoma and acute leukemia viruses studied to date. UR2-transformed non-virus-producing cells contain a single 24S viral RNA which is most likely the message coding for the transforming protein of UR2. On the basis of the uniqueness of the transforming sequence, we concluded that UR2 is a new member of the defective avian sarcoma viruses
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