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J Virol. Oct 1997; 71(10): 7807–7813.
PMCID: PMC192134

Repression of gene expression upon infection of cells with herpes simplex virus type 1 mutants impaired for immediate-early protein synthesis.


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) mutants defective in immediate-early (IE) gene expression do not readily enter productive replication after infection of tissue culture cells. Instead, their genomes are retained in a quiescent, nonreplicating state in which the production of viral gene products cannot be detected. To investigate the block to virus replication, we used the HSV-1 triple mutant in1820K, which, under appropriate conditions, is effectively devoid of the transactivators VP16 (a virion protein), ICP0, and ICP4 (both IE proteins). Promoters for the HSV-1 IE ICP0 gene or the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) major IE gene, cloned upstream of the Escherichia coli lacZ coding sequences, were introduced into the in1820K genome. The regulation of these promoters and of the endogenous HSV-1 IE promoters was investigated upon conversion of the virus to a quiescent state. Within 24 h of infection, the ICP0 promoter became much less sensitive to transactivation by VP16 whereas the same element, when used to transform Vero cells, retained its responsiveness. The HCMV IE promoter, which is not activated by VP16, also became less sensitive to the HCMV functional homolog of VP16. Both elements remained available for transactivation by HSV-1 IE proteins at 24 h postinfection, showing that the in1820K genome was not irreversibly inactivated. The promoters controlling the HSV-1 ICP4, ICP22, and ICP27 genes also became essentially unresponsive to transactivation by VP16. The ICP0 promoter was induced when hexamethylene bisacetamide was added to cultures at the time of infection, but the response to this agent was also lost by 24 h after infection. Therefore, promoter elements within the HSV-1 genome are actively repressed in the absence of IE gene expression, and repression is not restricted specifically to HSV-1 IE promoters.

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Selected References

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