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Close structural resemblance between putative polymerase of a Drosophila transposable genetic element 17.6 and pol gene product of Moloney murine leukaemia virus.

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  • Research Article


We have made a computer-assisted search for homology among polymerases or putative polymerases of various viruses and a transposable element, the Drosophila copia-like element 17.6. The search revealed that the putative polymerase (second open reading frame) of the copia-like element 17.6 bears close resemblance in overall structural organization to the pol gene product of Moloney murine leukaemia virus (M-MuLV): they show significant homology to each other at both the N- and C-terminal portions, suggesting that the 17.6 putative polymerase carries two enzymatic activities, related to reverse transcriptase and DNA endonuclease. The putative polymerase of cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) shows striking homology with the putative polymerase of 17.6 over almost its entire length, but it lacks the DNA endonuclease-related sequence. Furthermore, it was shown that the N-terminal ends of the M-MuLV pol product and the CaMV and 17.6 putative polymerases exhibit strong sequence homology with the gag-specific protease (p15) of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) as well as the amino acid sequence predicted from the gag/pol spacer sequence of human adult T-cell leukaemia virus (HTLV). These p15-related sequences contain a highly conserved stretch of amino acids which show a close similarity with sequences around the active site amino acids Asp-Thr-Gly of the acid protease family, suggesting that they have an activity similar to acid protease. On the basis of the alignment of reverse transcriptase-related sequences, a dendrogram representing phylogenetic relationships among all the viruses compared together with 17.6 was constructed and its evolutionary implication is discussed.

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