A cDNA clone derived from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene has been used to show that the level of mitochondrially encoded RNA species declines during herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in a manner similar to that for RNA species derived from nuclear genes. In contrast to the situation for nuclear genes, however, no change in the transcription rate of the mitochondrial genome during infection was detected, indicating that post-transcriptional processes alone are responsible for the decline in the levels of mitochondrial RNA species during infection. Two stages in this post-transcriptional degradation have been defined, only one of which is dependent upon viral protein synthesis in the infected cell.


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