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J Virol. 2006 Dec;80(23):11589-97. Epub 2006 Sep 20.

Evidence that the immediate-early gene product ICP4 is necessary for the genome of the herpes simplex virus type 1 ICP4 deletion mutant strain d120 to circularize in infected cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel Institute for Biotechnology and Virology Research, College of Medicine, Drexel University, 3805 Old Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18901-2697, USA.


Following infection, the physical state of linear herpes simplex virus (HSV) genomes may change into an "endless" or circular form. In this study, using Southern blot analysis of the HSV genome, we provide evidence that immediate-early protein ICP4 is involved in the process of converting the linear HSV-1 ICP4-deleted mutant strain d120 genome into its endless form. Under conditions where de novo viral DNA synthesis was inhibited, the genome of the ICP4 deletion mutant d120 failed to assume an endless conformation following infection of Vero cells (compared with the ability of wild-type strain KOS). This defect was reversed in the Vero-derived cell line E5, which produces the ICP4 protein, suggesting that ICP4 is necessary and sufficient to complement the d120 defect. When ICP4 protein was provided by the replication-defective DNA polymerase mutant HP66, the genomes of mutant d120 could assume an endless conformation in Vero cells. Western blot analysis using antibody specific to the ICP4 protein showed that although the d120 virions contained ICP4 protein, the majority of that ICP4 protein was in a 40-kDa truncated form, with only a small fraction present as a full-length 175-kDa protein. When expression of ICP4 protein from E5 cells was inhibited by cycloheximide, the d120 virion-associated ICP4 protein was unable to mediate endless formation after infection of E5 cells. Collectively, these data suggest that ICP4 protein has an important role in mediating the endless formation of the HSV-1 genome upon infection and that this function can be provided in trans.

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