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J Virol. 2006 Mar;80(6):2609-20.

The alpha-TIF (VP16) homologue (ETIF) of equine herpesvirus 1 is essential for secondary envelopment and virus egress.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) alpha-trans-inducing factor homologue (ETIF; VP16-E) is a 60-kDa virion component encoded by gene 12 (ORF12) that transactivates the immediate-early gene promoter. Here we report on the function of EHV-1 ETIF in the context of viral infection. An ETIF-null mutant from EHV-1 strain RacL11 (vL11deltaETIF) was constructed and analyzed. After transfection of vL11deltaETIF DNA into RK13 cells, no infectious virus could be reconstituted, and only single infected cells or small foci containing up to eight infected cells were detected. In contrast, after transfection of vL11deltaETIF DNA into a complementing cell line, infectious virus could be recovered, indicating the requirement of ETIF for productive virus infection. The growth defect of vL11deltaETIF could largely be restored by propagation on the complementing cell line, and growth on the complementing cell line resulted in incorporation of ETIF in mature and secreted virions. Low- and high-multiplicity infections of RK13 cells with phenotypically complemented vL11deltaETIF virus resulted in titers of virus progeny similar to those used for infection, suggesting that input ETIF from infection was recycled. Ultrastructural studies of vL11deltaETIF-infected cells demonstrated a marked defect in secondary envelopment at cytoplasmic membranes, resulting in very few enveloped virions in transport vesicles or extracellular space. Taken together, our results demonstrate that ETIF has an essential function in the replication cycle of EHV-1, and its main role appears to be in secondary envelopment.

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