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J Virol. 1992 Sep;66(9):5453-63.

Substitution of a TATA box from a herpes simplex virus late gene in the viral thymidine kinase promoter alters ICP4 inducibility but not temporal expression.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The role of cis-acting promoter elements associated with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) early and late genes was evaluated during productive infection with regard to activation of gene expression by the HSV-1 transactivator ICP4 and control of temporal regulation. A set of recombinant viruses was constructed such that expression of an HSV-1 early gene, thymidine kinase (tk), was placed under the control of either the tk TATA box or the TATA box from the late gene, glycoprotein C (gC), in the presence or absence of the upstream Sp1 and CCAAT sites normally found in the tk promoter. The presence of Sp1 sites in the promoter or replacement of the tk TATA box with the gC TATA box resulted in a decreased activation of tk mRNA expression by ICP4. Substitution of the A + T-rich region from the gC TATA box in the context of the remainder of the surrounding tk sequences resulted in a promoter that bound recombinant TATA-binding protein (TBP) better at lower concentrations than the wild-type tk promoter did. These results indicate that tk promoters that are better able to utilize TBP are less responsive to ICP4 activation and suggest that activation by ICP4 involves the general transcription factors that interact with TBP or TBP itself. Additionally, all of the viruses expressed tk at early times postinfection, indicating that cis-acting promoter elements that control the level of expression of HSV-1 early and late genes do not determine temporal regulation.

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