Hexamethylene bisacetamide (HMBA) and DMSO are known to induce differentiation of cultured erythroleukaemic cells and to enhance the reactivation of latent herpes simplex virus (HSV) after explantation of ganglia. We report that the presence of these compounds in cell culture medium overcomes the replication defect of 1814, an HSV-1 mutant with an insertion mutation that inactivates the virion trans-inducing factor, Vmw65 (VP16). The effect of HMBA was not cell type-specific and was attained even by a short exposure (1.5 to 5 h) to the agent early after infection. The presence of HMBA resulted in an increase in immediate early (IE) RNA accumulation after infection of cells in the presence of cycloheximide, such that RNA levels in 1814-infected cells approached the values observed in wild-type HSV-1-infected cells in the absence of HMBA. Transport of viral DNA to the cell nucleus was not affected by HMBA. The results suggest that HMBA- and DMSO-mediated enhancement of reactivation from latency is due to an increase in IE RNA production. In addition, these studies demonstrate a primary effect of HMBA on gene regulation which may be a paradigm for initial events during erythroleukaemic cell differentiation.


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