In peripheral sensory ganglia latently infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) transcription is restricted. A set of viral latency-associated transcripts, the LATs, have been characterized by Northern blotting and hybridization. These transcripts have previously been mapped to a 3 kb region of the viral genome within the repeat long region. However, transcription from adjacent regions of the genome can be detected by hybridization, which cannot be detected by Northern blotting. These RNAs are termed minor LATs or m-LAT. In this study we show that in ganglia latently infected with the HSV-1 variant 1704, which is deleted in one complete copy of the LAT gene and in the promoter and 5′ portion of the other copy, m-LATs are not detected by hybridization. Furthermore, the levels of DNA in nervous system tissue latently infected with the parental and the 1704 variant virus are similar. Thus we propose that the sequence elements necessary for initiating transcription or stabilizing m-LATs are within the region deleted in variant 1704 that codes for the promoter and the 5′ end of the LATs.


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