The transforming (onc) genes of retroviruses contain specific sequences, derived from as yet poorly defined, normal cellular genes, termed proto-onc genes. Proto-onc genes must be defined to explain their docility compared to the oncogenicity of the viral derivatives. Here we set out to determine the borders of the chicken proto-fps gene from which the onc genes of avian Fujinami (FSV) and PRC sarcoma viruses (PRCSV) are derived. These onc genes are hybrids of an element from the gag gene of retroviruses (Δgag) linked to a 2.8-kb domain from proto-fps. To identify the 5′ border of proto-fps we have sequenced 1.5 kb beyond the 5′ border of overlap with viral fps utilizing a proto-fps clone derived previously. A possible promoter was identified that maps 736 nucleotides from this border. The 736 nucleotides contain two possible exons with 121 codons, and short regions of homology with the Δgag termini of FSV and PRCII. A translation stop codon and an adjacent polyadenylation signal were identified just prior to the 3′ border of overlap with viral fps within a 1.15-kb sequence of a newly isolated proto-fps clone. Comparing four exons within this 1.15 kb proto-fps sequence with known fps equivalents of FSV and PRCSV, we have detected strain-specific, but no common point mutations in each viral genome. A 3.3-kb polyadenylated proto-fps mRNA was detected in chicken liver RNA by gel electrophoresis and hybridization with proto-fps DNA. We conclude that the coding capacity of proto-fps is just over 3 kb, consistent with the size of the putative proto-fps protein of 98 kDa and hence slightly larger than that of viral fps. Thus proto-fps and the viral Δgag-fps genes each contain distinct 5′ regulatory and coding sequences and share the 3′ terminal fps domains. It is suggested that this difference, rather than scattered point mutations, is responsible for the oncogenic function of the viral genes and the unknown cellular function of proto-fps.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes