We describe the isolation and characterization of conditional lethal amber nonsense mutants of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), Indiana serotype. The mutants were isolated from a chemically mutagenized stock of wild-type virus by their ability to grow on genetically engineered cells which express a amber suppressor tyrosine tRNA gene ( cells) but not on the non-suppressor parental cells ( cells). Five mutations were assigned to complementation group I (the L gene) and one to complementation group V (the G gene) by complementation analysis using temperature-sensitive mutants representing each of the five VSV cistrons. Four of the group I mutants were observed to synthesize a novel polypeptide species in cells. Immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting studies using monospecific antisera directed against the N and C termini of the VSV L protein showed that the novel polypeptide species contain N terminal- but not C terminal-specific sequences and can thus be considered to be truncated versions of the L protein. In addition a protein which again contained N terminal- but not C terminal-specific sequences could be identified for the fifth group I mutant. Revertants of four of the group I mutants were isolated on the cells. The revertants all synthesized normal L protein but not the putative truncated version.


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