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Virology. 1996 Nov 1;225(1):172-80.

Potency of wild-type and temperature-sensitive vesicular stomatitis virus matrix protein in the inhibition of host-directed gene expression.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.


The matrix (M) protein of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) functions in virus assembly and also appears to be involved in the inhibition of host gene expression that is a characteristic cytopathic effect of VSV infection. Previous studies have shown that expression of M protein inhibits host-directed transcription in the absence of other viral gene products and have suggested that only small amounts of M protein are required for the inhibition. In experiments described here, the potency of M protein in inhibition of host-directed gene expression was determined by cotransfecting different amounts of in vitro-transcribed M protein mRNA together with a target gene encoding chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) into BHK cells or PC12 cells that had been cultured in the presence or the absence of nerve growth factor. The results of these experiments showed that the potency of M protein was similar in the two cell types and was not affected by the extent of differentiation of PC12 cells. Inhibition of CAT gene expression by M protein was also independent of the nature of the promoter activating sequences of several different RNA polymerase II-dependent promoters. The amount of M protein needed to give 50% inhibition of CAT expression was estimated to be 6700-11,000 copies per cell. Earlier data that temperature-sensitive (ts) M gene mutants of VSV inhibit host transcription had been interpreted to indicate that M protein was not involved in the inhibition. When the amount of M protein expressed was taken into account, ts M protein was as effective as wild-type M protein in the inhibition of host-directed transcription at the nonpermissive temperature. Thus, inhibition of host transcription by ts M mutants of VSV is due to the potent activity of M protein, which is evident even at the low levels produced at the nonpermissive temperature.

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