The genetic organization of the early region of bovine polyomavirus (BPyV) was studied by analysis of the splice sites used in early mRNA maturation, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing techniques. When compared to other polyomaviruses, the BPyV early region appears to have an uncommon organization. In the major early mRNA molecule two small intron sequences of 71 and 77 nucleotides, separated from one another by an 80 nucleotide exon sequence, were identified. Through splicing out both introns, a mRNA molecule is generated that contains an open reading frame with the capacity to encode 619 amino acids. Comparisons with the simian virus 40 large T antigen suggested that this mRNA molecule encodes the BPyV large T antigen. Remarkably, no mRNA product encoding a protein with a size comparable to that of the small t antigens of other polyomaviruses was detected. Another transcript was observed from which only the 77 nucleotide intron sequence had been removed, thereby creating a mRNA molecule with the capacity to encode only 45 amino acids. Whether this mRNA product represents a mature transcript which is translated in BPyV-infected cells or is an intermediate in the formation of the large T mRNA molecule is not known. Analysis of BPyV-specific early mRNA products isolated from BPyV-transformed murine cells revealed only the amplification product representing the putative large T antigen transcript.


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