Thymidine kinase (TK) activity was detected following expression of the TK gene of Epstein—Barr virus (EBV) using the pET expression plasmid and BL21(DE3)pLysS. To study the amino acid residues required at the C terminus of the EBV TK protein for enzymatic activity, a series of C-terminal deletion mutants was generated by direct truncation, linker insertion or PCR mutagenesis to create stop codons at particular sites. Deletion of nine residues from the C terminus caused a 35% reduction in TK activity, while a ten-residue deletion completely abolished the activity. A single point mutation at residue Cys570, corresponding to Cys336 of herpes simplex virus TK, did not alter the TK activity. Single amino acid changes within the last seven to ten residues also did not affect activity. The results indicate that maintenance of the conformation of the C terminus is important for enzyme activity.


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