Independent expression of the transforming amino-terminal domain of SV40 large I antigen from an alternatively spliced third SV40 early mRNA.
We found that simian virus 40 (SV40), in addition to the SV40 early proteins large T antigen (large T) and small antigen (small t), codes for a third early protein with a molecular weight of 17 kDa. This protein (17kT) is expressed from an alternatively spliced third SV40 early mRNA, using a splice donor site at position 4425 and a splice acceptor site at position 3679 of the SV40 genome. The 17kT protein consists of 135 amino acids. Of these, 131 correspond to the amino-terminus of large T, while the four carboxy-terminal amino acids are unique and encoded by a different reading frame. 17kT mRNA, and the corresponding protein, were found in all SV40 transformed cells analyzed, as well as in SV40 infected cells. Transfection of a cDNA expression vector encoding the 17kT protein into rat F111 fibroblasts induced phenotypic transformation of these cells. The expression of the transforming amino-terminal domain of large T as an independent 17kT protein might provide a means for individually regulating the various functions associated with this domain.