The SV40(cT)-3 mutant is defective in transport of SV40 large tumor antigen (T-ag) to the nucleus. Several properties of T-ag associated with SV40 lytic infection and attributed to its nuclear localization were examined to determine whether biologically significant levels of the mutant T-ag (cT-ag) that were immunologically undetectable were transported to the nucleus in SV40(cT)-3-infected TC-7 cells. SV40(cT)-3 was defective in regulation of T-ag synthesis and initiation of viral DNA synthesis. These defects were presumably due to the lack of nuclear transport of cT-ag, since cT-ag was capable of interacting with the SV40 origin of viral DNA synthesis in a solution binding assay. The level of fatty acid acylation, a modification specific for the cell surface associated T-ag, was not affected by the cT mutation. The cT mutation sufficiently suppressed the nuclear transport of wild-type (WT) T-ag in SV40(cT)-3-infected COS-1 cells to result in the cessation of WT-T-ag-stimulated SV40(cT)-3 viral DNA synthesis. These results are discussed with respect to the recent findings that SV40(cT)-3 is fully competent for the transformation of established cell lines and the induction of cellular DNA synthesis in quiescent cells.
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