Quantification and Analysis of Thymidine Kinase Expression from Acyclovir-Resistant G-String Insertion and Deletion Mutants in Herpes Simplex Virus-Infected Cells
Coen, Donald M.
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CitationPan, Dongli, and Donald M. Coen. 2012. “Quantification and Analysis of Thymidine Kinase Expression from Acyclovir-Resistant G-String Insertion and Deletion Mutants in Herpes Simplex Virus-Infected Cells.” Journal of Virology 86 (8): 4518–26. https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.06995-11.
AbstractTo be clinically relevant, drug-resistant mutants must both evade drug action and retain pathogenicity. Many acyclovir-resistant herpes simplex virus mutants from clinical isolates have one or two base insertions (G8 and G9) or one base deletion (G6) in a homopolymeric run of seven guanines (G string) in the gene encoding thymidine kinase (TK). Nevertheless, G8 and G9 mutants express detectable TK activity and can reactivate from latency in mice, a pathogenicity marker. On the basis of studies using cell-free systems, ribosomal frameshifting can explain this ability to express TK. To investigate frameshifting in infected cells, we constructed viruses that express epitope-tagged versions of wild-type and mutant TKs. We measured TK activity by plaque autoradiography and expression of frameshifted and unframeshifted TK polypeptides using a very sensitive immunoprecipitation-Western blotting method. The G6 mutant expressed similar to 0.01% of wild-type levels of TK polypeptide. For the G9 mutant, consistent with previous results, much TK expression could be ascribed to reversion. For the G8 mutant, from these assays and pulse-labeling studies, we determined the ratio of synthesis of frameshifted to unframeshifted polypeptides to be 1:100. The effects of stop codons before or after the G string argue that frameshifting can initiate within the first six guanines. However, frameshifting efficiency was altered by stop codons downstream of the string in the 0 frame. The G8 mutant expressed only 0.1% of the wild-type level of full-length TK, considerably lower than estimated previously. Thus, remarkably low levels of TK are sufficient for reactivation from latency in mice.
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