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Virology. 1997 Mar 3;229(1):98-105.

Differentiation of the shutoff of protein synthesis by virion host shutoff and mutant gamma (1)34.5 genes of herpes simplex virus 1.

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Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


vhs protein is the product of the UL41 open reading frame of herpes simplex virus 1. The protein, made late in infection, is packaged into virions and, in newly infected cells, shuts off host protein synthesis by degrading mRNA. gamma (1)34.5 gene encodes a protein which precludes total shutoff of protein synthesis after the onset of viral DNA synthesis in infected cells of human derivation. The experiments reported here were designed to test the hypothesis that in cells infected with gamma (1)34.5- mutant the total shutoff of protein synthesis reflects the failure to alter the function of vhs made late in infection. Hence, double mutants, vhs- and gamma (1)34.5 should not cause total shutoff of protein synthesis. The mutants constructed to test the hypothesis were (i) viruses lacking 1 kbp from the coding domain of gamma (1)34.5 and carrying lacZ inserted into the coding domain of UI41, (ii) viruses with deletions in gamma (1)34.5 genes, (iii) viruses with lacZ inserted into UL41, and (iv) viruses in which the sequences of the deleted or interrupted genes were restored. We report that viruses with wild-type UL41 gene shut off the synthesis of actin, whereas viruses with interrupted genes made amounts of actin comparable to those of mock-infected cells. However, late in infection, protein synthesis in human neuroblastoma cells infected with the gamma (1)34.5- mutants was shut off irrespective of the status of the UL41 gene. Conversely, the phenotype of UI41 viruses with wild-type gamma (1)34.5 gene could not be differentiated from those of wild-type virus in the same assays. These studies indicate that the functions of the UL41 and gamma (1)34.5 genes and their products are independent of each other.

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