One unique feature of the prototype JC virus (JCV) (Mad 1) genome is the occurrence of a second TATA sequence within the early promoter region. A naturally occurring oncogenic variant of JCV (Mad 4) lacks this second TATA box. Several cell lines transformed by Mad 1, Mad 4 and simian virus 40 were characterized, in part to investigate whether the second TATA sequence is functional. S1 nuclease mapping of early JCV gene transcription products revealed a major set of start sites common to both Mad 1 and Mad 4 mRNAs. In addition, a second set of early transcripts was found exclusively in Mad 1 transformants, presumably positioned by the second TATA box. The presence of these unique mRNAs in the Mad 1-transformed cells did not appear to have any bearing on the other parameters investigated, including size and quantity of early viral proteins, integration patterns of viral DNA and growth properties of the cells.


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