Transfection of bovine cells with bovine herpesvirus-1 genomic DNA yields low levels of infectious virus. Cotransfection with the bICP0 gene enhances productive infection and virus yield because bICP0 can activate viral gene expression. Since the latency-related (LR) gene overlaps and is antisense to bICP0, the effects of LR gene products on productive infection were tested. The intact LR gene inhibited productive infection in a dose-dependent fashion but LR protein expression was not required. Further studies indicated that LR gene sequences near the 3′ terminus of the LR RNA are necessary for inhibiting productive infection. When cotransfected with the bICP0 gene, the LR gene inhibited bICP0 RNA and protein expression in transiently transfected cells. Taken together, these results suggest that abundant LR RNA expression in sensory neurons is one factor that has the potential to inhibit productive infection and consequently promote the establishment and maintenance of latency.
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