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J Virol. 2008 Dec;82(24):12030-8. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01575-08. Epub 2008 Oct 8.

Herpes simplex virus ICP0 promotes both histone removal and acetylation on viral DNA during lytic infection.

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Harvard Medical School, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


During lytic infection, the genome of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is associated with limited levels of histones but does not form a regular repeating nucleosomal structure. However, the previous observation that chromatin remodeling factors are recruited into viral replication compartments indicates that chromatin remodeling plays a role in HSV-1 gene expression and DNA replication. In this study we demonstrate the presence of histone H3 on HSV-1 DNA early in infection at levels equivalent to those found on a cellular gene. The proportion of viral DNA associated with histone H3 decreases at later times postinfection, independently of either viral DNA replication or transcription. We demonstrate that an immediate-early protein, infected cell protein 0 (ICP0), is required for both a reduction in the proportion of HSV-1 DNA associating with histone H3 and an increase in histone acetylation. This study provides evidence that ICP0 directly alters the chromatin structure of the HSV-1 genome during lytic infection, and this system will serve as a useful model for the reduction of histone load in higher eukaryotes.

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