The biochemical properties of DNA polymerase purified from Mason-Pfizer monkey virus were studied, with respect to synthetic and natural template-primer utilization. These studies revealed the following new information about the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus enzyme: (a) Mason-Pfizer monkey virus polymerase was found to prefer template : primer molar nucleotide ratios of 2.5-5 : 1 for optimal rates of synthesis with poly(C) · (dG)12-18 as template-primer. (b) Poly(A)-directed synthesis was stimulated by the addition of low concentrations of inorganic phosphate to the reaction mixture. (c) Poly(2′-O-methylcytidylate), poly(rCm), was the only template studied for which Mn2+ proved the preferred divalent cation. Combinations of divalent cations stimulated rather than inhibited poly(rCm)-directed poly(dG) synthesis by the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus enzyme. (d) Heteropolymeric regions of rabbit globin mRNA and avian myeloblastosis virus 70 S RNA could be copied by the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus polymerase with oligo(dT), oligo(U) or in the case of avian myeloblastosis virus RNA, endogenous primers. In all such studies, Mg2+ was the preferred divalent cation and a distinct preference for the DNA primer in the reverse transcription of natural RNAs was observed. These new findings necessitated comparative studies with the DNA polymerases from Rauscher murine leukemia virus and murine mammary tumor virus, as representative type C and type B retroviruses. Although the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus enzyme was found to share some properties in common with both type C and type B mammalian viral enzymes, certain of the above properties rendered it unique among the polymerases examined.
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