Regulation of c-myc and c-fos mRNA levels by polyomavirus: distinct roles for the capsid protein VP1 and the viral early proteins.
The levels of c-myc, c-fos, and JE mRNAs accumulate in a biphasic pattern following infection of quiescent BALB/c 3T3 mouse cells with polyomavirus. Maximal levels of c-myc and c-fos mRNAs were seen within 1 hr and were nearly undetectable at 6 hr after infection. At 12 hr after infection mRNA levels were again maximal and remained elevated thereafter. Empty virions (capsids) and recombinant VP1 protein, purified from Escherichia coli, induced the early but not the late phase of mRNA accumulation. Virions, capsids, and recombinant VP1 protein stimulated [3H]thymidine nuclear labeling and c-myc mRNA accumulation ina dose-responsive manner paralleling their affinity for the cell receptor for polyoma. The second phase of mRNA accumulation is regulated by the viral early gene products, as shown by polyomavirus early gene mutants and by a transfected cell line (336a) expressing middle tumor antigen upon glucocorticoid addition. These results suggest that polyomavirus interacts with the cell membrane at the onset of infection to increase the levels of mRNA for cellular genes associated with cell competence for DNA replication, and subsequently these levels are maintained by the action of the early viral proteins.