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Exp Cell Res. 2003 Nov 15;291(1):242-50.

The Us3 protein kinase of herpes simplex virus 1 blocks apoptosis and induces phosporylation of the Bcl-2 family member Bad.

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Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Viruses have evolved different strategies to interfere with apoptotic pathways in order to halt cellular responses to infection. The herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) Us3 open-reading frame encodes a serine/threonine protein kinase that participates in the inhibition of apoptosis induced by virus infection and other stress agents. Previous studies have shown that Us3 counteracts the virus-induced activation of caspase-3 by acting at a premitochondrial stage. Using stable transfectants that express Us3 under the control of constitutive or inducible promoters we demonstrate that apoptosis induced by treatment with anti-Fas antibody and sorbitol is blocked when Us3 is expressed at levels comparable to those achieved during virus infection. Expression of Us3 correlated with phosphorylation of Bad, a BH3-only proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member that is also a target for growth factor-induced cellular kinases. Bad was phosphorylated by Us3 in in vitro kination assays. These results point to a strategy for viral inhibition of apoptosis based on functional inactivation of a critical component of the cellular death machinery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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