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J Virol. 1993 Sep;67(9):5098-108.

Mutational analysis of the herpes simplex virus type 1 strict late UL38 promoter/leader reveals two regions critical in transcriptional regulation.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine 92717.


The unusual TATA homology TTTAAA at -31 relative to the transcriptional start site of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) strict late (gamma) UL38 gene defines the 5' extent of this promoter in recombinant virus. We have further analyzed this promoter by generating recombinant viruses containing nested deletions 3' of the transcriptional start site and with recombinant viruses containing specific promoter/leader alterations. A recombinant virus containing the UL38 promoter/leader from -50 to +9 expressed reporter gene enzyme levels at approximately 10% of those from a recombinant containing the full viral promoter/leader (-50 to +99). The accumulation of reporter gene mRNA in infections with the -50 to +9 recombinant was still regulated with gamma kinetics. Further removal of UL38 leader sequences resulted in a nearly complete loss of expression. Analysis of promoter chimera recombinant viruses has shown that sequences downstream of the TATA box and spanning the transcriptional start site of the UL38 promoter are functionally distinct from those of either the beta UL37 gene or the beta gamma VP16 (UL48) gene; thus, we conclude that sequences from -31 to +9 of the UL38 gene constitute a core gamma promoter. Further deletional and substitutional analyses have also demonstrated the presence of a 14-bp element (the downstream activation sequence) located between +20 to +33 in the nontranslated leader region which is required for full levels of transcription.

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