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J Virol. 2011 Aug;85(15):7474-82. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00180-11. Epub 2011 Mar 30.

The checkpoints of viral gene expression in productive and latent infection: the role of the HDAC/CoREST/LSD1/REST repressor complex.

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Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories, The University of Chicago, 910 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


At the portal of entry into the body, herpes simplex viruses (HSV) vigorously multiply and spread until curtailed by the adaptive immune response. At the same time, HSV invades nerve ending-abutting infected cells and is transported in a retrograde manner to the neuronal nucleus, where it establishes a latent (silent) infection. At intervals, as a consequence of physical or metabolic stress, the virus is activated and transported in an anterograde manner to the body surface. The progression of infection is regulated at four checkpoints. In cell culture or at the portal of entry into the body, HSV uses components of the HDAC1- or HDAC2/CoREST/LSD1/REST repressor complex to activate α genes (checkpoint 1) and then uses an α protein, ICP0, to suppress the same repressor complex from silencing post-α gene expression (checkpoint 2). In neurons destined to harbor latent virus (checkpoint 3), HSV hijacks the same repressor complex to silence itself as a first step in the establishment of the latent state. Suppression of histone deacetylases (HDACs) plays a key role in the reactivation from latency (checkpoint 4). HSV has evolved a strategy of using the same host repressor complex to meet its diverse lifestyle needs.

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