Simian virus 40 large T antigen contains two independent activities that cooperate with a ras oncogene to transform rat embryo fibroblasts
The simian virus 40 large T antigen immortalizes growing primary cells in culture. In addition, this viral oncoprotein cooperates with an activated ras protein to produce dense foci on monolayers of rat embryo fibroblasts (REF). The relationship between independent immortalization and cooperative transformation with ras has not been defined. Previously, two regions of T antigen were shown to contain immortalization activities. An N-terminal fragment consisting of amino acids 1 to 147 immortalizes rodent cells (L. Sompayrac and K. J. Danna, Virology 181:412-415, 1991). Loss-of-function analysis indicated that immortalization depended on integrity of the T- antigen segments containing amino acids 351 to 450 and 533 to 626 (T. D. Kierstead and M. J. Tevethia, J. Virol. 67:1817-1829, 1993). The experiments described here were directed toward determining whether these same T-antigen regions were sufficient for cooperation with ras. Initially, constructs that produce T antigens containing amino acids 176 to 708 (T176-708) or 1 to 147 were tested in a ras cooperation assay. Both polypeptides cooperated with ras to produce dense foci on monolayers of primary REF. These results showed that T antigen contains two separate ras cooperation activities. In order to determine the N-terminal limit of the ras cooperation activity contained within the T176-708 polypeptide, a series of constructs designed to produce fusion proteins containing T-antigen segments beginning at residues 251, 301, 337, 351, 371, 401, 451, 501, 551, 601, and 651 was generated. Each of these constructs was tested for the capacity to cooperate with ras to produce dense foci on REF monolayers. The results indicated that a polypeptide containing T-antigen amino acids 251 to 708 (T251-708) was sufficient to cooperate with ras, whereas the more extensively truncated products were not. The abilities of the N-terminally truncated T antigens to bind p53 were examined in p53- deficient cells infected with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing a phenotypically wild-type mouse p53. The results showed that polypeptides containing T-antigen amino acids 251 to 708, 301 to 708, 337 to 708, or 351 to 708 retained p53-binding capacity. The introduction into the T251-708 polypeptide of deletions that either prevented p53 binding (dl434-444) or did not prevent p53 binding (dl400) abrogated ras cooperation. These results indicated that although p53 binding may be necessary for ras cooperation, an additional, as-yet-undefined activity contained within the T251-708 polypeptide is needed.