Characterization of mouse mammary tumor virus gag-pro gene products and the ribosomal frameshift site by protein sequencing.

A. Hizi*, L. E. Henderson, T. D. Copeland, R. C. Sowder, C. V. Hixson, S. Oroszlan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The synthesis of retroviral polyproteins that are the translational products of the genome-size mRNA is initiated in the upstream gag gene. The synthesis of the products of the protease gene (pro) and polymerase gene (pol) is regulated by translational suppression (in-frame read-through or frameshift) of termination codons as a strategy developed for controlling the level of replicative enzymes required only in catalytic amounts. In mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV), three overlapping reading frames are utilized for the synthesis of gag-encoded Pr77, gag-pro-encoded Pr110, and gag-pro-pol-encoded Pr160 polyproteins. To characterize pro gene products and to determine the site of frameshift required for the synthesis of Pr110, we purified and sequenced three MMTV proteins: p14, p30, and p13. Sequence analysis showed that p14 is the basic nucleic acid-binding protein derived entirely from gag, and p13 is a product of the pro gene and has characteristic sequences of protease. A comparison of the amino acid sequences of p30 with the corresponding nucleotide sequence of proviral DNA allowed the delineation of the frameshift site utilized in vivo for the synthesis of the gag-pro-encoded fusion polyprotein Pr110. The results showed that: (i) the N-terminal 94 residues of p30 are translated from the gag frame; (ii) residue leucine-95 is specified by either the last UUG codon of gag or the overlapping CUU codon in the pro frame; and (iii) the elongation of the peptide chain from residue 96 continued to be encoded in the pro frame to the pro terminator. The possible mechanisms of frameshift and of the tRNAs involved are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7041-7045
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes


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