Adenovirus type 2 cores can function effectively as templates in an replication system. Viral DNA replication assays using cores as templates do not differ in their requirements to the well characterized assays using DNA-complex templates, i.e. there is a dependence on terminal protein precursor (pTP), DNA polymerase and DNA binding protein and the assay is greatly stimulated by certain host transcription factors. The products of initiation and limited elongation are easily distinguishable and, in the system described, there is specific proteolysis of the pTP adducts as a function of the adenovirus-coded protease, present in the nuclear extracts from infected cells, or the core templates. Substitution of Mn ions for Mg ions in the replication assay has a dramatic effect on the nature of the replication events, in most cases resulting in the stimulation of initiation without elongation. Similar results can be achieved by utilizing subviral particles as templates, obtained by dialysis of purified adenovirus in a hypotonic buffer at pH 6.4. Restriction enzyme analysis of the replicated products confirmed that DNA synthesis proceeds from the adenovirus termini using both the core and subviral templates. By adding an ATP-regenerating system elongation can be further stimulated, particularly in the case of the subviral templates. Quantification of nucleotide incorporation into the appropriate restriction fragments indicates that for the subviral templates replication can proceed for a least 2000 to 3000 bases from either terminus. These results suggest that the adenovirus genome is packaged in the virion in a conformation readily available for at least the initial replication events. Such a conformation might also be appropriate for early transcription.


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