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J Virol. 2009 Feb;83(3):1416-21. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01276-08. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

The histone variant H3.3 regulates gene expression during lytic infection with herpes simplex virus type 1.

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Gene Expression and Regulation Program, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennysylvania 19104, USA.


It has been proposed that incorporation of the histone variant H3.3 within actively transcribed regions of a genome helps to facilitate transcription. In this report we use lytic infection by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) as a model to examine the temporal profile of histone H3 incorporation and to determine whether the variant histone H3.3 has a direct effect on transcription. We find that canonical H3.1 and variant H3.3 exhibit distinct temporal associations with the genome in cell lines expressing equal amounts of epitope-tagged H3 variants. At the earliest times examined after infection, the HSV-1 genome is incorporated into chromatin that predominantly contains the variant H3.3, whereas incorporation of canonical H3.1 occurs later in infection and is dependent on replication of the HSV-1 genome. Further, inhibition of H3.3 association, via reduced expression of the H3.3 chaperone HIRA, significantly reduces the levels of HSV-1 mRNA. These findings show that incorporation of H3.3 facilitates transcription, and they provide new evidence for a regulatory role of chromatin composition during HSV-1 acute infection.

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