Open reading frame (ORF) 57 of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) encodes a homolog of known posttranscriptional regulators that are essential for replication in other herpesviruses. Here, we examined the expression of this gene and the function(s) of its product. KSHV ORF 57 is expressed very early in infection from a 1.6-kb spliced RNA bearing several in-frame initiation codons. Its product is a nuclear protein that, in transient assays, has little effect on the expression of luciferase reporter genes driven by a variety of KSHV and heterologous promoters. However, ORF 57 protein enhances the accumulation of several viral transcripts, in a manner suggesting posttranscriptional regulation. These transcripts include not only known cytoplasmic mRNAs (e.g., ORF 59) but also a nuclear RNA (nut-1) that lacks coding potential. Finally, ORF 57 protein can also modulate the effects of the ORF 50 gene product, a classical transactivator known to be required for lytic induction. The expression from some (e.g., nut-1) but not all (e.g., tk) ORF 50-responsive promoters can he synergistically enhanced by coexpression of ORF 50 and ORF 57. This effect is not due to upregulation of ORF 50 expression but rather to a posttranslational enhancement of the transcriptional activity of ORF 50. These data indicate that ORF 57 is a powerful pleiotropic effector that can act on several posttranscriptional levels to modulate the expression of viral genes in infected cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science