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J Virol. 2003 May;77(10):5911-25.

The latency-associated nuclear antigen homolog of herpesvirus saimiri inhibits lytic virus replication.

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Institut für Klinische und Molekulare Virologie, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS), a T-lymphotropic tumor virus of neotropical primates, and the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV) belong to the gamma-(2)-herpesvirus (Rhadinovirus) subfamily and share numerous features of genome structure and organization. The KSHV latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) protein appears to be relevant for viral persistence, latency, and transformation. It binds to DNA, colocalizes with viral episomal DNA, and presumably mediates efficient persistence of viral genomes. LANA further represses the transcriptional and proapoptotic activities of the p53 tumor suppressor protein. Here we report on the ORF73 gene of HVS strain C488, which is the positional and structural homolog of KSHV LANA. The ORF73 gene in OMK cells can encode a 62-kDa protein that localizes to the nucleus in a pattern similar to that of LANA. We show that the ORF73 gene product can regulate viral gene expression by acting as a transcriptional modulator of latent and lytic viral promoters. To define the HVS ORF73 function in the background of a replication-competent virus, we constructed a viral mutant that expresses ORF73 under the transcriptional control of a mifepristone (RU-486)-inducible promoter. The HVS ORF73 gene product efficiently suppresses lytic viral replication in permissive cells, indicating that it defines a critical control point between viral persistence and lytic replication.

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