A cDNA library was synthesized using RNA from bovine papillomavirus type 4 (BPV-4)-induced papillomas. The major viral transcript was characterized by sequencing of its cDNA, primer extension mapping and S1 nuclease protection studies. The transcript initiates at multiple sites between nucleotide (nt) 777 and nt 902, contains a splice junction between nt 1016 and nt 3376 and terminates at nt 4034, using the early polyadenylation signal at nt 4009. Sequencing of viral cDNAs and mRNA revealed deviations from the reported genomic sequence between nt 3412 and nt 3460. These resulted in a temporary frameshift, abolished the translation termination codon of the E5a open reading frame (ORF), and introduced a new termination codon in the E4 ORF. The new uninterrupted E5 ORF was found to have greater homology to the E4 ORFs of other papillomaviruses than to their E5 ORFs. The E5 ORF of BPV-4 is joined to a five codon ORF in the leader exon of the major transcript, in the same way as the E4 ORF in the major transcripts of BPV-1 and human papillomavirus type 11. On this basis, it has been redesignated E4, and the viral genomic sequence revised. Two novel transcriptional promoters of BPV-4 were defined: a putative controller of the multiple major RNA start sites around nt 870 and a minor TATA box at nt 691. In addition, minor early region transcripts were mapped which initiate between nt 3071 and nt 3152. None of these transcripts utilizes the splice site at nt 3376. These messages may express E2-encoded functions.


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