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Journal of Virology


Simian virus 40 (SV40) large tumor antigen (T antigen) stimulates the activity of the SV40 late promoter and a number of cellular and other viral promoters. We have characterized the ability of T antigens with mutations in the DNA-binding domain and within the N-terminal 85 residues to activate the SV40 late promoter. T antigens lacking both nonspecific and sequence-specific DNA-binding activities were able to induce the late promoter. Mutations within the N-terminal 85 residues of T antigen diminished activation by less than twofold. Activation by wild-type and most of the mutant T antigens required intact binding sites for the cellular transcription factor TEF-1 in the late promoter. Curiously, two mutants altered in the N-terminal region and an additional mutant altered in the DNA-binding domain activated a late promoter derivative lacking TEF-1 binding sites, indicating the existence of a TEF-1-independent pathway for activation of the late promoter. A consensus binding site for the TATA binding protein, TBP, was created in variants of late promoters either containing or lacking TEF-1 binding sites. Basal expression was increased by the consensus TBP binding site only when TEF-1 binding sites were present, leading to a reduction in the degree of activation by T antigen. However, activation by a mutant T antigen of the promoter lacking TEF-1 sites was unchanged or slightly enhanced by the consensus TBP binding site. These results suggest that some mutant T antigens can stabilize an interaction between TBP and additional factors bound to the late promoter.