The 605 amino acid E1 protein of bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV-1) is a multifunctional nuclear protein required for viral DNA replication. A nuclear localization signal (NLS) sequence was previously defined by point mutations in three short adjacent clusters of basic amino acids located in the amino-terminal region of the E1 protein. In this study, we used a fusion protein approach to evaluate the contribution of other regions of the E1 protein to nuclear transport. The nearly full-length E1 gene and six non-overlapping subfragments were each fused in-frame with the gene in a eukaryotic expression vector. Each clone was electro-porated into COS-1 cells, and the intracellular location of the E1-β-galactosidase fusion proteins was determined by immunofluorescence. Only the constructs containing the full-length E1 or a single subregion (E1-259; amino acids 84 to 166) produced fusion proteins that entered the nucleus. Point mutations in the NLS sequences of the E1-259- construct prevented nuclear translocation of the corresponding fusion protein. This confirms the previous result that the cluster of basic amino acids is critical for nuclear transport. Furthermore, the data obtained in this investigation indicated that the region of E1 containing the NLS sequence was not only necessary, but was also sufficient for nuclear localization. No other region of E1 contained independent nuclear localization activity.


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