Studies with mutant viruses have suggested that the product of gene UL41 of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) controls the virion-mediated inhibition of cellular protein synthesis as well as the rate of degradation of viral mRNAs. HSV-1 strain 17 has a weak host shutoff function, whereas HSV-2 strain G shuts off strongly. A gene of HSV-2(G), judged from its position in the genome to be the probable analogue of gene UL41 of HSV-1, was inserted into the non-essential thymidine kinase gene of HSV-1(17). The recombinant virus, 17G41, exhibited a strong shutoff function and its immediate early mRNA did not accumulate in the presence of cycloheximide. It resembled HSV-2(G) in these respects and not the parent, confirming the function of the transferred gene. Recombinant virus 17G41 carries the UL41 genes of both strains, 17 and G, and in this situation the strong shutoff function was dominant. However, after mixed infection with equal multiplicities of 17G41 and HSV-1(17) the weak shutoff function was dominant. The recombinant, 17G41, was further modified by insertion of a expression cassette into the coding region of the original gene UL41 (17). The resulting virus, 17(41)G41, also had a strong shutoff activity but grew poorly in tissue culture.


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