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Virology. 1995 May 10;209(1):236-41.

Murine cytomegalovirus IE2, an activator of gene expression, is dispensable for growth and latency in mice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305-5402, USA.


The murine cytomegalovirus alpha (immediate-early) gene product, IE2(391aa), a protein that is related to the human cytomegalovirus US22 protein family, had previously been shown to be dispensable for viral growth in cell culture. In transient assays, however, this protein was found to transactivate the murine CMV ie1/ie3 and ie2 promoters, as well as a number of other promoters. Transactivation was mediated via promoter-proximal elements rather than through elements located upstream in the enhancer region. This activation predicted that ie2 would play a role in regulating gene expression; however, ie2 mutants did not exhibit altered growth or latency in the mouse. ie2-deficient viruses reached peak titers in spleen, salivary glands, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, peripheral blood leukocytes, and adrenal glands that were comparable to wild-type virus. When assayed by spleen explant culture, ie2-deficient viruses yielded reactivation levels similar to wild type. Thus, the murine CMV ie2 gene encodes a regulatory protein that is dispensable for viral infection of cells in culture as well as for interaction with tissues in the infected BALB/c mouse.

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