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J Virol. 2006 May;80(10):4921-6.

Epigenetic regulation of varicella-zoster virus open reading frames 62 and 63 in latently infected human trigeminal ganglia.

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Department of Neurology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


Open reading frames (ORFs) 21, 29, 62, 63, and 66 of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) are transcribed during latency in human ganglia. ORF 63 is the most frequently expressed gene, and ORF 62 encodes a transcriptional activator. The mechanisms regulating the expression of these genes are not well understood, although analyses of other alphaherpesviruses indicate a role for chromatin in virus gene regulation during latent infection. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays to analyze the euchromatic state of ORFs 62 and 63 compared to the centromere from human chromosome 4 (heterochromatic) and the human glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase promoter (euchromatic), we show that the promoters of ORFs 62 and 63 are associated with the histone protein H3K9(Ac) and thus maintained in a euchromatic state during latency. Conversely, the promoters of ORF 36 (thymidine kinase) and ORF 14 (glycoprotein C), genes expressed during lytic but not latent infection, were not enriched in the fraction of latently infected ganglia that bound to anti-H3K9(Ac) antibody. A ChIP assay using productively infected MeWo cells revealed that VZV ORFs 62, 63, 36, and 14 are all euchromatic. Together, these data indicate that the expression of the two latency-related VZV genes, ORFs 62 and 63, is regulated epigenetically through chromatin structure.

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