We have constructed stable DNA-transfected LTK+ cell lines containing two different coselected hybrid interferon (IFN) genes driven by the usually strong and constitutive promoter from the immediate-early 94K protein (IE94) gene of simian cytomegalovirus. Surprisingly, and unlike hybrid IE94-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene constructs, both of the IE94-IFN genes (one with and one without the complex spliced intron region) produced relatively low basal titers of biologically active human IFN in the mouse cell lines. However, IFN expression could be stimulated up to 120-fold by superinfection with herpes simplex virus (HSV), although not with cytomegalovirus. To examine the mechanism of this unexpected HSV induction process, we measured the levels of both IE94-IFN mRNA and IFN protein produced under various infection protocols. Compared with similar previously characterized cell lines containing hybrid IFN genes under the control of HSV IE or delayed-early (DE) promoters, activation of IFN expression first occurred at an intermediate time. Both IE94-IFN cell lines also produced an unusual pattern of response to infection with the HSV IE regulation-deficient mutants tsK and tsB7: stimulation of IFN synthesis occurred in the absence of a functional HSV IE175 (or ICP4) gene product, but did not occur in the absence of uncoating of virus capsids. Cycloheximide treatment (without virus infection) also gave a rapid 30-fold increase in steady-state levels of correctly initiated mRNA from both types of IE94-IFN hybrid genes, but had no effect on cells containing the IE175-IFN construct. Therefore, we conclude that the use of the IE94-IFN constructs identifies a novel HSV regulatory response that requires a previously unrecognized function of HSV and does not involve either IE175 or the pre-IE 'virion factor' trans-activators that are known to stimulate transcription of HSV IE and DE genes, respectively.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science