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J Virol. 1990 Jun;64(6):2620-31.

Functional relevance of specific interactions between herpes simplex virus type 1 ICP4 and sequences from the promoter-regulatory domain of the viral thymidine kinase gene.

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  • 1Laboratory of Tumor Virus Genetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 immediate-early regulatory protein ICP4 is required for induced expression of HSV early and late genes, yet the mechanism by which this occurs is not known. We examined the promoter and flanking sequences of the HSV early gene that encodes thymidine kinase for the ability to interact specifically with ICP4 in gel retardation assays. Protein-DNA complexes containing ICP4 were observed with several distinct regions flanking the tk promoter. cis-Acting elements that interact with cellular transcription factors were apparently not required for these interactions to form. Purified ICP4 formed protein-DNA complexes with fragments from these regions, and Southwestern (DNA-protein blot) analysis indicated that the interaction between ICP4 and these sequences can be direct. None of the tk sequences that interact with ICP4 contains a consensus binding site for ICP4 (S. W. Faber and K. W. Wilcox, Nucleic Acids Res. 14:6067-6083, 1986), reflecting the ability of ICP4 to interact with more than one DNA sequence. A mutated ICP4 protein expressed from the viral genome that retains the ability to bind to a consensus binding site but does not bind specifically to the identified sites flanking the tk promoter results in induced transcription of the tk gene. These data support hypotheses for ICP4-mediated transactivation of the tk promoter in Vero cells that do not require the intrinsic ability of ICP4 to bind specifically in or near the promoter of the tk gene.

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