Alcelaphine herpesvirus-1 open reading frame 57 encodes an immediate-early protein with regulatory function

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Alcelaphine herpesvirus-1 (AlHV-1) is the causative agent of Malignant Catarrhal fever, a lymphoproliferative and degenerative disease of large ruminants and ungulate species. The Alcelaphine Herpesvirus-1 gene product encoded by open reading frame 57 (ORF 57) is the positional homologue of the ORF 57 of Herpes Virus Saimiri (HVS), Kaposi's Sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Murine Gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV 68), the Epstein-Barr virus BMLF1 gene, the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) ICP 27 and the IE 4 gene of Varicella Zoster virus (VZV). In these viruses the ORF 57 gene product is expressed very early and encodes a regulatory protein, which is essential for viral replication acting both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. The function of ORF 57 gene product in the life cycle of AlHV-1 however remains unknown. Here we examined the expression of this gene and the function of its product. We have demonstrated that it is expressed very early in infection and have shown that the ORF57 gene product activates the promoter of another classical transactivator gene ORF50. It activates ORF50 promoter driving expression of an intron-less reporter gene to 50 fold and does not have any effect on an intron-containing reporter gene driven by the ORF 50 promoter. The 50 fold increase in the luciferase activity was not correlated with a similar fold increase in the luciferase RNA levels indicating that ORF 57 protein acts at a post-transcriptional level to regulate gene expression.

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