Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) immediate early protein Vmw110 (also known as ICP0) is required for the fully efficient expression of viral genes during onset of lytic growth and for normal reactivation from latency. Both Vmw110 and the cellular protein PML are members of the RING finger family of zinc binding domain proteins, a family which includes an increasing number of examples from a wide evolutionary range. The function of the RING finger domain is unknown, and the question arises whether the RING finger (like several other examples of conserved domains) fulfils similar functions in these diverse proteins. Another link between Vmw110 and PML is that at early times of HSV-1 infection Vmw110 migrates to distinct nuclear structures which contain the PML protein. In order to test the possibility that PML and Vmw110, or their RING finger domains, fulfil similar functions, we have constructed recombinant viruses that express either intact PML, or a chimeric Vmw110 protein which contains the PML RING finger in place of its own. The results indicate that the PML and Vmw110 RING fingers are not functionally interchangeable, and that PML is not a cellular functional counterpart of Vmw110.


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