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The product of the UL12.5 gene of herpes simplex virus type 1 is a capsid-associated nuclease.

By J C Bronstein, S K Weller and P C Weber


The UL12 open reading frame of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) encodes a deoxyribonuclease that is frequently referred to as alkaline nuclease (AN) because of its high pH optimum. Recently, an alternate open reading frame designated UL12.5 was identified within the UL12 gene. UL12.5 and UL12 have the same translational stop codon, but the former utilizes an internal methionine codon of the latter gene to initiate translation of a 60-kDa amino-terminal truncated form of AN. Since the role of the UL12.5 protein in the HSV-1 life cycle has not yet been determined, its properties were investigated in this study. Unlike AN, which can be readily solubilized from infected cell lysates, the UL12.5 protein was found to be a highly insoluble species, even when isolated by high-salt detergent lysis. Since many of the structural polypeptides which constitute the HSV-1 virion are similarly insoluble, a potential association of UL12.5 protein with virus particles was examined. By using Western blot analysis, the UL12.5 protein could be readily detected in preparations of intact virions, isolated capsid classes, and even capsids that had been extracted with 2 M guanidine-HCl. In contrast, AN was either missing or present at only low levels in each of these structures. Since the inherent insolubility of the UL12.5 protein prevented its potential deoxyribonuclease activity from being assayed in infected-cell lysates, partially purified fractions of soluble UL12.5 protein were generated by selectively solubilizing either insoluble infected-cell proteins or isolated capsid proteins with urea and renaturing them by stepwise dialysis. Initial analysis of these preparations revealed that they did contain an enzymatic activity that was not present in comparable fractions from cells infected with a UL12.5 null mutant of HSV-1. Additional biochemical characterization revealed that UL12.5 protein was similar to AN with respect to pH optimum, ionic strength, and divalent cation requirements and possessed both exonucleolytic and endonucleolytic functions. The finding that the UL12.5 protein represents a capsid-associated form of AN which exhibits nucleolytic activity suggests that it may play some role in the processing of genomic DNA during encapsidation

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1997
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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