The virion host shutoff protein of herpes simplex virus type 1: messenger ribonucleolytic activity in vitro

Zelus, B.D.; Stewart, R.S.; Ross, J.

Journal of Virology 70(4): 2411-2419


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-538X
PMID: 8642669
Accession: 009638143

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Shortly after tissue culture cells are infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 or 2, the rate of host protein synthesis decreases 5- to 10-fold and most host mRNAs are degraded. mRNA destabilization is triggered by the virion host shutoff (vhs) protein, a virus-encoded, 58-kDa protein located in the virion tegument. To determine whether it can function as a messenger RNase (mRNase), the capacity of vhs protein to degrade RNA in vitro in the absence of host cell components was assessed. Two sources of vhs protein were used in these assays: crude extract from virions or protein translated in a reticulocyte-free system. In each case, wild-type but not mutant vhs protein degraded various RNA substrates. Preincubation with anti-vhs antibody blocked RNase activity. These studies do not prove that vhs protein on its own is an mRNase but do demonstrate that the protein, either on its own or in conjunction with another factor(s), has the biochemical property of an mRNase, consistent with its role in infected cells.