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J Gen Virol. 2005 Oct;86(Pt 10):2703-8.

Open reading frame 73 is required for herpesvirus saimiri A11-S4 episomal persistence.

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Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.


Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS) establishes a latent infection in which the viral genome persists as a non-integrated episome. Analysis has shown that only open reading frames (ORFs) 71-73 are transcribed in an in vitro model of HVS latency. ORF73 also colocalizes with HVS genomic DNA on host mitotic chromosomes and maintains the stability of HVS terminal-repeat-containing plasmids. However, it is not known whether ORF73 is the only HVS-encoded protein required for episomal maintenance. In this study, the elements required for episomal maintenance in the context of a full-length HVS genome were examined by mutational analysis. A recombinant virus, HVS-BAC delta71-73, lacking the latency-associated genes was unable to persist in a dividing cell population. However, retrofitting an ORF73 expression cassette into the recombinant virus rescued episomal maintenance. This indicates that ORF73 is the key trans-acting factor for episomal persistence and efficient establishment of a latent infection.

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