Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus, or AcMNPV, is the type member of the baculoviruses, a family of double-stranded DNA viruses with large circular genomes. The successive and concomitant expression of an assortment of early, late and very late genes is instrumental for successful baculovirus infection, and requires a switch from early dependence on a host cell-derived polymerase II to a novel virus-encoded RNA polymerase that is required for transcription later on in infection. A series of repetitive and highly conserved sequences known as homologous regions, or hrs, function both as origins of DNA replication as well as transcriptional enhancers of late gene expression. An array of AcMNPV genes produced early on in infection, known as late expression factors, or LEFs, are essential for both replication and late gene expression. In this review, an overview of baculovirus LEFs and their roles in viral replication and late gene expression is presented. The role of LEFs in determining baculovirus host range is described. Finally, we compare baculovirus replication and transcription machinery with other viral systems.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel