Transcription in whole HeLa cell extracts of the nucleoprotein core complexes released from adenovirus type 2 or type 5 virions has been examined. The average length of transcripts from deproteinized DNA templates increased steadily during a 90-min reaction in vitro, exhibiting an elongation rate of approximately 70 nucleotides per minute. On the other hand, transcripts made from viral core templates were restricted to a length of less than 2000 nucleotides. Accordingly, efficient transcription of cores (50 nucleotides elongated/min) ceased after 10-20 min of incubation in whole-cell extracts. Deproteinized viral DNA and viral nucleoprotein complexes appeared to support the initiation of a similar number of transcripts per template molecule, but the rate of initiation was faster when cores were provided as templates. Deproteinized viral DNA supported the synthesis of VA-RNA and of transcripts that hybridized to the region of the viral genome containing the 5′ portion of the major late transcriptional. Viral cores also directed the synthesis of RNA products which hybridized to fragments of the viral genome containing ElA, ElB, and E4 regions. The results of nuclease protection experiments indicated that the presence of core proteins did not preclude accurate initiation of transcription from the E4 region.
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