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Polyomavirus late pre-mRNA processing: DNA replication-associated changes in leader exon multiplicity suggest a role for leader-to-leader splicing in the early-late switch

Polyomavirus late pre-mRNA processing: DNA replication-associated changes in leader exon multiplicity suggest a role for leader-to-leader splicing in the early-late switch

Journal of Virology 64(12): 5823-5832

Polyomavirus late mRNAs contain at their 5' ends multiple, tandem repeats of a 57-base noncoding sequence, the late leader, whose sequence appears only once in the viral genome. Pre-mRNA molecules are processed by a pathway that includes the splicing of late leader exons to each other in giant, multigenome-length precursors which are the result of inefficient transcription termination. We have devised a method involving reverse transcription and the polymerase chain reaction to determine the number of tandem late leader units on polyomavirus late RNA molecules. Using this technique, we have shown that each class of late viral mRNA (mVP1, mVP2, and mVP3) consists of molecules with between 1 and 12 tandem leader units at their 5' ends. Importantly, single-leader RNAs are underrepresented in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus, suggesting that single-leader primary transcripts are preferentially degraded in the nucleus. In addition, the average number of leaders on late RNAs increases in the presence of DNA replication. Taken together with previous work from our laboratory, the results presented here are consistent with a model for the control of late gene expression at the level of RNA splicing and stability which is in turn controlled by the efficiency of transcription termination.

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Accession: 041005552

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PMID: 2173769

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