Genetic studies to elucidate the role of papillomaviruses in the development and progression of tumors have been severely hampered because the viruses cannot be grown in tissue culture and therefore mutants are not available. We have employed recombinant DNA for papilloma induction to identify essential sequences involved in papillomavirus pathogenesis. Here, we demonstrated that deleting most of the open reading frame (ORF)L2 did not affect the potential of viral cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV) DNA to induce papillomas. The extrachromosomally maintained DNA in the papillomas was not rearranged and the major transcripts of 1.3 and 2.0 kb encoded E7 and E6, respectively. A recombinant DNA containing a larger deletion lacking the 3′ terminal half of ORF L2 and all of ORF L1 (pdlBcll) did not induce papillomas. The results indicate that sequences in the late region not required for transformation of NIH 3T3 cells by bovine papillomavirus type-1 essential in CRPV for induction of papillomas.
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