Ovine adenovirus isolate 287 (OAdV-7) is the prototype of the atadenoviruses, a genus whose strategy for infection and replication is still being elucidated. A transcription unit at the right end of the genome contains four related genes (ORFs RH1, 2, 4, and 6), at least three of which are nonessential for replication in vitro. Related genes are also present in the genomes of bovine and avian atadenoviruses. To investigate how these apparently redundant genes are decoded, a more detailed transcription map of the right end of the OAdV-7 genome has been deduced. Eight transcripts that were derived from a promoter in the terminal repeat sequence were identified. Five were potentially bicistronic. The transcripts could encode all the potential proteins of the region subject to efficient reinitiation of translation. However, the most interesting and surprising finding in this work was that the related RH proteins carry an F-box motif. This was first identified in OAdV-7 RH1 and subsequently found in RH2, 4, and 6 proteins and the related reading frames from the bovine and avian atadenoviruses. Although very rare among viral proteins, several hundred cellular proteins contain F-box motifs. F-box proteins facilitate the degradation of a variety of important regulatory proteins via SCF ubiquitin ligase complexes. Thus, it appears that atadenoviruses have adopted a strategy to regulate a key cellular pathway(s) that distinguishes them from the other adenovirus genera and from most viruses in general.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science (USA)