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Review
, 17 (2), 157-66

Coordination of Late Gene Transcription of Human Cytomegalovirus With Viral DNA Synthesis: Recombinant Viruses as Potential Therapeutic Vaccine Candidates

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Review

Coordination of Late Gene Transcription of Human Cytomegalovirus With Viral DNA Synthesis: Recombinant Viruses as Potential Therapeutic Vaccine Candidates

Hiroki Isomura et al. Expert Opin Ther Targets.

Abstract

Introduction: During productive infection, human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) genes are expressed in a temporal cascade, with temporal phases designated as immediate-early (IE), early, and late. The major IE (MIE) genes, UL123 and UL122 (IE1/IE2), play a critical role in subsequent viral gene expression and the efficiency of viral replication. The early viral genes encode proteins necessary for viral DNA replication. Following viral DNA replication, delayed-early and late viral genes are expressed which encode structural proteins for the virion. The late genes can be divided into two broad classes. At early times the gamma-1 or leaky-late class are expressed at low levels after infection and are dramatically upregulated at late times. In contrast, the gamma-2 or 'true' late genes are expressed exclusively after viral DNA replication. Expression of true late (gamma-2 class) viral genes is completely prevented by inhibition of viral DNA synthesis.

Areas covered: This review addresses the viral genes required for HCMV late gene transcription. Recombinant viruses that are defective for late gene transcription allow for early viral gene expression and viral DNA synthesis, but not infectious virus production. Since current HCMV prophylaxis is limited by several shortcomings, the use of defective recombinant viruses to induce HCMV cell-mediated and humoral immunity is discussed.

Expert opinion: HCMV DNA replication and late gene transcription are not completely linked. Viral-encoded trans-acting factors are required. Recombinant viruses proficient in MIE and early viral gene expression and defective in late gene expression may be an alternative therapeutic vaccine candidates for the induction of cell-mediated and humoral immunity.

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