This paper presents the nucleotide sequence of the Herpes Simplex Virus thymidine kinase (tk) gene. The positions on the DNA sequence corresponding to the 5′ and 3′ termini of tk messenger RNA have been mapped. The mRNA termini are separated by slightly more than 1,300 nucleotides. The same 2,300 nucleotide segment of tk coding strand DNA is fully protected from S1 nuclease digestion when hybridized to tk mRNA. The location and size of the mRNA-coding segment corresponds to a region of the viral DNA that is essential for tk gene expression in microinjected frog oocytes. The nucleotide sequence of the HSV tk gene exhibits an open translational reading frame of 376 codons that extends from the methionine codon most proximal to the 5′ terminus of tk mRNA to a USA stop codon ∼70 nucleotides from the poly-A addition site. The results of these experiments indicate that the tk gene is not interrupted by intervening DNA sequences, and that certain oligonucleotide sequences adjacent to the termini of the tk gene are homologous to similarly positioned sequences common to structural genes of eukaryotic cells.
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