Expression of ICP0 from the simian simplexvirus SA8 and a study of its transactivation activity
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Human Herpes Simplex viruses and Simian Herpes Simplex viruses share a high degree of genome homology, but despite this, important differences arise when the viruses are compared at the level of gene expression and virulence in non-host primates. In Human Herpes viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2); 5 genes (RL02, US01, RS01, UL54 and US12) are expressed with an immediate early kinetics, i.e. their transcriptional activation does not require de novo synthesis of host or viral factors. The five immediate early (IE) genes regulate the cascade of expression of the other early and late HSV genes. Literature indicates that in HSV-1 infections, ICP4, ICP27 and to a lesser extent, ICP0, are mandatory for the full expression of the early and late gene classes. In contrast, our data on the Simian simplexviruses SA8, HVP-2 and B virus indicate that ICP0 (RL2) is the only gene with true IE kinetics. It is possible that in Simian Herpes viruses, ICP0 is necessary for the expression of all other viral genes, and to test this hypothesis I have cloned and expressed in Vero cells the ICP0 protein for the simian simplexvirus SA8 and studied its effect on the SA8 genes that are homologous to the immediate early genes in HSV. Results demonstrate that ICP0 does not appear to be sufficient to activate the transcription of the other IE genes but it is likely that ICP0 functionality is a necessary component in the activation process.