Clustered charge-to-alanine mutagenesis of the vaccinia virus A20 gene: temperature-sensitive mutants have a DNA-minus phenotype and are defective in the production of processive DNA polymerase activity.


Although the vaccinia virus DNA polymerase is inherently distributive, ...
Although the vaccinia virus DNA polymerase is inherently distributive, a highly processive form of the enzyme exists within the cytoplasm of infected cells (W. F. McDonald, N. Klemperer, and P. Traktman, Virology 234:168-175, 1997). In the accompanying report we outline the purification of the 49-kDa A20 protein as a stoichiometric component of the processive polymerase complex (N. Klemperer, W. McDonald, K. Boyle, B. Unger, and P. Traktman, J. Virol. 75:12298-12307, 2001). To complement this biochemical analysis, we undertook a genetic approach to the analysis of the structure and function of the A20 protein. Here we report the application of clustered charge-to-alanine mutagenesis of the A20 gene. Eight mutant viruses containing altered A20 alleles were isolated using this approach; two of these, tsA20-6 and tsA20-ER5, have tight temperature-sensitive phenotypes. At the nonpermissive temperature, neither virus forms macroscopic plaques and the yield of infectious virus is <1% of that obtained at the permissive temperature. Both viruses show a profound defect in the accumulation of viral DNA at the nonpermissive temperature, although both the A20 protein and DNA polymerase accumulate to wild-type levels. Cytoplasmic extracts prepared from cells infected with the tsA20 viruses show a defect in processive polymerase activity; they are unable to direct the formation of RFII product using a singly primed M13 template. In sum, these data indicate that the A20 protein plays an essential role in the viral life cycle and that viruses with A20 lesions exhibit a DNA(-) phenotype that is correlated with a loss in processive polymerase activity as assayed in vitro. The vaccinia virus A20 protein can, therefore, be considered a new member of the family of proteins (E9, B1, D4, and D5) with essential roles in vaccinia virus DNA replication.




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