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Virology. 1999 Sep 15;262(1):139-51.

Novel, nonconsensus cellular splicing regulates expression of a gene encoding a chemokine-like protein that shows high variation and is specific for human herpesvirus 6.

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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, London, WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom.


There are few genes that are specific and diagnostic for human herpesvirus-6. U83 and U22 are two of them. U22 is unique, whereas U83 encodes distant similarity with some cellular chemokines. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, cDNA cloning, and sequence analyses show polyadenylated RNA transcripts corresponding to minor full-length and abundant spliced forms of U83 in human herpesvirus 6-infected cells. The splice donor and acceptor sites do not fit consensus sequences for either major GT-AG or minor AT-AC introns. However, the spliced form can also be detected in a U83 transfected cell line; thus the novel sites are used by cellular mechanisms. This intron may represent a new minor CT-AC splicing class. The novel splicing regulates gene expression by introducing a central stop codon that abrogates production of the chemokine-like molecule, resulting in an encoded truncated peptide. The use of metabolic inhibitors and an infection time course showed expression of the two RNA transcripts with immediate early kinetics. However, the full-length product accumulated later, dependent on virus DNA replication, similar to U22. Sequence analyses of 16 strains showed high variation (13%) in U83, with conservation of the novel splice sites. Representative strain variants had similar kinetics of expression and spliced products.

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