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Virology. 1998 Sep 15;249(1):129-39.

Analysis of human herpesvirus 6 U3 gene, which is a positional homolog of human cytomegalovirus UL 24 gene.

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Departments of Microbiology, Ophthalmology, Osaka University Medical School, 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka, 565-0871, Japan.


The US22 gene family was first discovered in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and contains several conserved amino acid motifs. Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) also encodes several genes belonging to the US22 family, including the U3 gene (a positional homolog of HCMV UL24). Because the gene products of the US22 gene family function as gene regulators in general, we analyzed the HHV-6A U3 gene. Six transcripts with different molecular weights of 7.5-1.8 kb were detected by Northern blot analysis using a U3-specific probe. Sequence analyses of the respective cDNA clones and primer extension experiments revealed that the U3 gene encoded the 2.0- and 3.5-kb transcripts and had no splicing within the U3 gene region. By immunofluorescence testing using antibodies raised to a fusion protein of MBP (maltose-binding protein) and U3, the U3 viral antigen was detected as early as 24 h p.i. in HHV-6A-infected U373 cells. The antigens were found in cytoplasmic granules, preferentially in the endoplasmic reticulum. Moreover, cotransfection assay using a luciferase gene expression system revealed that the U3 gene product was capable of activating the human immunodeficiency virus long terminal repeat promoter in CV1 cells.

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