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J Virol. Jan 1988; 62(1): 196–205.
PMCID: PMC250519

Herpes simplex virus type 1-induced ribonucleotide reductase activity is dispensable for virus growth and DNA synthesis: isolation and characterization of an ICP6 lacZ insertion mutant.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) encodes a ribonucleotide reductase consisting of two subunits (140 and 38 kilodaltons) whose genes map to coordinates 0.56 to 0.60 on the viral genome. Host cell lines containing the HpaI F fragment which includes the reductase subunit genes of HSV type 1 strain KOS (coordinates 0.535 to 0.620) were generated. Transfection of these cells with a plasmid containing the immediate-early ICP0 gene resulted in the expression of ICP6; interestingly, ICP4 plasmids failed to induce expression, indicating an unusual pattern of ICP6 regulation. One such cell line (D14) was used to isolate a mutant with the structural gene of lacZ inserted into the ICP6 gene such that the lacZ gene is read in frame with the N-terminal region of ICP6. This mutant generated a protein containing 434 amino acids (38%) of the N terminus of ICP6 fused to beta-galactosidase under control of the endogenous ICP6 promoter. Screening for virus recombinants was greatly facilitated by staining virus plaques with 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indoyl-beta-D-galactoside (X-gal). Enzyme assays of infected BHK cells indicated that the mutant is incapable of inducing viral ribonucleotide reductase activity. Surprisingly, although plaque size was greatly reduced, mutant virus yield was reduced only four- to fivefold compared with that of the wild type grown in exponentially growing Vero cells. Mutant virus plaque size, yields, and ability to synthesize viral DNA were more severely compromised in serum-starved cells as compared with the wild type grown under the same condition. Although our evidence suggests that the HSV type 1 ribonucleotide reductase is not required for virus growth and DNA replication in dividing cells, it may be required for growth in nondividing cells.

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Selected References

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