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Virology. 2003 Nov 25;316(2):256-66.

Characterization of vnr-13, the first alphaherpesvirus gene of the bcl-2 family.

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IBCP, UMR 5086 CNRS-Université Claude Bernard 7, Passage du Vercors, F69367 Lyon Cedex 07, France.


The Bcl-2 family, including antiapoptotic and proapoptotic members, plays key regulating roles in programmed cell death. We report the characterization of a new member of the bcl-2 family, encoded by herpesvirus of turkeys (HVT). The product of this gene shares 80% homology with Nr-13, an apoptosis inhibitor, which is overexpressed in avian cells transformed by the v-src oncogene. This new gene, that we propose to call vnr-13, is the first member of the bcl-2 family to be isolated among alpha-herpesviruses. Results from cells expressing the HVT-vnr-13 gene product show that the encoded protein inhibits apoptosis and also reduces the rate of cellular proliferation. Contrary to all bcl-2 homologues found in gamma-herpesvirus, which are intronless, vnr-13 has the same organization as the cellular nr-13 gene. Hence, the HVT vnr-13 gene may have been acquired from a reverse transcriptase product of an unspliced precursor RNA, or via direct recombination with the host chromosomal DNA.

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