Degenerate oligonucleotides representing conserved regions of various DNA polymerases hybridized to a region located 26 kb from the left end of the orf virus (OV) strain NZ-2 genome. DNA sequence analysis of this region revealed a 3024 bp open reading frame able to encode a protein with 56% amino acid identity to the DNA polymerase of vaccinia virus (VAC) and with significant homology to other DNA polymerases. Early transcripts derived from the open reading frame were detected in RNA purified from OV-infected cells, and 5′ ends were mapped to a region 8–19 nt downstream from an A/T-rich sequence that resembles VAC early promoters. Unlike the VAC gene, the OV DNA polymerase makes almost exclusive use of G/C coding options. Attempts to substitute the activity of the OV DNA polymerase for its VAC counterpart were unsuccessful. This may indicate that the OV DNA polymerase is incompatible with VAC accessory proteins.


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