A DNA polymerase alpha accessory protein exhibits structural and functional similarities to SV40 large tumor antigen.
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Untransformed cells have been proposed to require a protein homologous to SV40 large tumor antigen (TAg) which functions as a component of the replicase complex during the initiation of DNA synthesis. By definition, this should be a phosphoprotein which interacts with the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) in G0 or early G1, and is capable of binding to and potentiating the activity of DNA polymerase alpha (pol alpha). This protein should also be an ATP-dependent helicase which interacts with the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding protein, RP-A. Because of these requirements, a TAg homologous protein could be expected to contain epitopes with amino acid sequences similar to those of TAg at critical functional sites, such as ATP, pRb and pol alpha binding sites. TAg and a putative cellular homolog of TAg, DNA pol alpha accessory protein (alpha AP), were compared for pRb and pol alpha interaction, and for immunological identity. The analyses utilized immunoaffinity-purified TAg and pRb from a baculovirus expression system, and DNA pol alpha/primase and alpha AP chromatographically isolated from a mouse lymphocytic leukemia cell line. Monoclonal antibodies specific for the pol alpha or pRb binding sites on TAg interacted with alpha AP strongly enough to be employed for immunoaffinity purification of alpha AP. Anti-pRb and anti-TAg reciprocally coimmunoprecipitated pRb bound to TAg and pRb bound to alpha AP. The functional consequences of pol alpha interaction with TAg or alpha AP in the presence or absence of pRb was determined using pol alpha nucleotide incorporation assays. alpha AP exhibited the capacity to stimulate pol alpha activity, a capacity which was diminished in the presence of pRb. Lastly, TAg and alpha AP independently co-purified with pol alpha through a multi-step chromatographic protocol. These data indicate that a pol alpha accessory protein, alpha AP, exhibits functional and immunological similarities to SV40 TAg, suggest that alpha AP is involved in regulation of the initiation of DNA synthesis, and support the proposal that alpha AP may be a normal cell protein homologous to SV40 large T antigen.