The minimal set of seven herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) genes required for viral origin-dependent DNA synthesis was previously identified using a transient replication assay in a mammalian cell line permissive for HSV-1 growth. We have constructed recombinant baculoviruses which efficiently express the products of each of these seven genes in infected (Sf) insect cells. When Sf cells were transfected with a plasmid containing a functional HSV-1 origin of replication, and subsequently superinfected with a mixture of these seven viruses, the input plasmid was amplified. This amplification exhibited properties characteristic of genuine HSV-1 DNA replication: all seven HSV-1 replication gene products were required, replicated DNA was detected as concatemers, and mutated origins were impaired to similar extents in insect cells and cells permissive for HSV-1 replication. These results demonstrate that the HSV-1 proteins expressed in Sf cells are fully competent for viral DNA synthesis, and indicate that any host function essential in mammalian cells must also be present in the infected insect cells. This system also provides a convenient method by which mutated replication proteins can be screened for function and produced in amounts sufficient for biochemical studies. Using this approach we show that the ability of the UL9 protein to bind to the viral origins of replication is not sufficient for it to facilitate DNA synthesis.


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