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Virus Genes. 2004 Oct;29(2):267-77.

The reading frame BPLF1 of Epstein-Barr virus: a homologue of herpes simplex virus protein VP16.

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Antisense Pharma GmbH, Josef-Engert-Strasse 9, D-93053 Regensburg, Germany.


The open reading frame BPLF1 of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) shows homology to the Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) protein VP16. This protein is a structural tegument component playing a pivotal role for HSV replication as trans-activator of viral immediate-early genes. An EBV gene with a comparable function has not been described so far. However, computer analysis indicated that BPLF1 may be a tegument protein homologous to VP16. This is the first report on the characterisation of the BPLF1 gene, its transcription, and expression of its gene product in vitro and in vivo. Using RT-PCR and Northern blot assays we demonstrated that the BPLF1 gene belongs to the class of late lytic cycle genes of EBV. Besides a full length transcript of 9.5 kb also a polyadenylated transcript of approximately 3 kb is synthesised. However, no consensus splice sites could be identified. Northern blot experiments using partially overlapping probes and sequencing of a BPLF1-specific cDNA revealed 1,550 nucleotides of the BPLF1 transcript, collinear in sequence with the viral genome from position 64547 to 66097. A recombinant Western blot assay detected BPLF1-specific antibodies in seropositive individuals, in particular in cases with elevated viral replication like infectious mononucleosis, chronic active infection, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. This demonstrated expression of the BPLF1 protein in vivo. Thus, experimental data and computer analysis strongly support the hypothesis of BPLF1 being a tegument protein of the EBV homologous to VP16 of HSV1 and ORF22 of Varicella zoster virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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