1887

Abstract

The alkaline nuclease (AN) encoded by gene UL12 of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is essential for efficient virus replication but its role during the lytic cycle remains incompletely understood. Inactivation of the UL12 gene results in reductions in viral DNA synthesis, DNA packaging, egress of DNA-containing capsids from the nucleus and ability of progeny virions to initiate new cycles of infection. Mechanistically, AN has been implicated in resolving branched structures in HSV-1 replicative intermediates prior to encapsidation, and promoting DNA strand-exchange. In this study, amplicons (bacterial plasmids containing functional copies of a virus replication origin and packaging signal) were used to analyse further the defects of the UL12 null mutant UL12. When UL12 was used as a helper virus both replication and packaging of the transfected amplicon were reduced in comparison with cells infected with wild-type (wt) HSV-1, and to extents similar to those previously observed for genomic UL12 DNA. By using amplicons differing at a specific restriction endonuclease site it was demonstrated that replicating molecules exhibit high frequency intermolecular recombination in both wt- and mutant-infected cells. Surprisingly, in the absence of the UL12 product, amplicons lacking a functional encapsidation signal were packaged. Moreover, these packaged molecules could be serially propagated indicating that they had been incorporated into functional virions. This difference in packaging specificity between wt HSV-1 and UL12 might indicate that replicative intermediates accumulating in the absence of AN contain an increased incidence of structures that can serve for the initiation of DNA packaging.

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2004-12-01
2019-11-19
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