Using vaccinia virus as a selection and cloning vehicle, a thymidine kinase (TK) gene of fowlpox virus (FPV) has been identified. A plasmid, pF130, containing part of the dIII-F region of vaccinia virus was used to shotgun clone RI fragments of FPV DNA into TK vaccinia virus and select for TK recombinants. The TK recombinant vaccinia virus contained a 5.5 kb RI fragment of FPV. This FPV fragment was cloned into pUC9 and the presence of the TK gene in this fragment was confirmed by its ability to rescue TK vaccinia virus from TK virus, when inserted into pF130. A recombinant vaccinia virus containing this FPV fragment induced TK enzyme activity in the cytoplasm of infected cells. The vaccinia virus RNA polymerase appeared able to recognize the FPV promoter sequences of the FPV TK gene since the fragment operated in the marker rescue, irrespective of its orientation to the vaccinia virus promoter in pF130. Using restriction enzyme analysis, insertion of subfragments of the 5.5 kb FPV fragment into pF130 and marker rescue, we were able to map the position of the TK gene in the 5.5 kb RI fragment. This approach may facilitate identification and cloning of TK genes from other poxviruses.

Keyword(s): FPV , thymidine kinase and vaccinia virus

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