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J Virol. 2009 Apr;83(8):3436-49. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02349-08. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Transcriptional coactivators are not required for herpes simplex virus type 1 immediate-early gene expression in vitro.

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Graduate Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


Virion protein 16 (VP16) of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a potent transcriptional activator of viral immediate-early (IE) genes. The VP16 activation domain can recruit various transcriptional coactivators to target gene promoters. However, the role of transcriptional coactivators in HSV-1 IE gene expression during lytic infection had not been fully defined. We showed previously that transcriptional coactivators such as the p300 and CBP histone acetyltransferases and the BRM and Brg-1 chromatin remodeling complexes are recruited to viral IE gene promoters in a manner dependent mostly on the presence of the activation domain of VP16. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that these transcriptional coactivators are required for viral IE gene expression during infection of cultured cells. The disrupted expression of the histone acetyltransferases p300, CBP, PCAF, and GCN5 or the BRM and Brg-1 chromatin remodeling complexes did not diminish IE gene expression. Furthermore, IE gene expression was not impaired in cell lines that lack functional p300, or BRM and Brg-1. We also tested whether these coactivators are required for the VP16-dependent induction of IE gene expression from transcriptionally inactive viral genomes associated with high levels of histones in cultured cells. We found that the disruption of coactivators also did not affect IE gene expression in this context. Thus, we conclude that the transcriptional coactivators that can be recruited by VP16 do not contribute significantly to IE gene expression during lytic infection or the induction of IE gene expression from nucleosomal templates in vitro.

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