We have characterized the temporal appearance and accumulation of minute virus of mice (MVM) replicative forms (RF) in highly synchronized single rounds of infection using a combination of restriction endonuclease analysis and two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis. Between 4 and 12 h after release of infected cells into the S-phase, both monomer (mRF) and dimer RF (dRF) increased exponentially at similar rates such that the ratio of mRF relative to dRF remained unchanged. These DNA forms accumulated at a faster rate than MVM RNAs, suggesting that the number of DNA templates available for replication is limiting, not the expression of MVM gene products, and that the majority of DNA templates are likely to be destined for DNA amplification rather than transcription and further gene expression. During this exponential DNA amplification phase, approximately 65% of mRF were in a fully extended form, whereas most of the remaining mRF were covalently closed in the left end and extended in the right end. Although MVM replication presumably generates right-hand turn-around mRF, only a low level of this form persists (5 to 10% of total mRF) at all times examined, suggesting that this form must be quickly converted to the extended form. Greater than 90% of dRF, which have right-hand palindromes on both ends of the molecule, were extended on both ends. A significant proportion of dRF and higher concatemers are nicked in the left-hand palindrome, suggesting that resolution of dRF into two mRFs may occur via single-stranded nicks rather than a double-stranded cut. An additional replicative form, previously termed band X, has been identified as an RNA-DNA duplex. This band is formed predominantly intracellularly, before cell lysis but its biological significance remains unclear. Our results provide direct experimental support for many of the predictions of the current models of parvovirus replication and suggest that the kinetic hairpin transfer model should be adjusted to include a strand-transfer or similar mechanism for the resolution of dRF to account adequately for the production of left-end turn-around forms.


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