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Analyses of immediate early and early transcripts and major early region, E10, of murine cytomegalovirus Vellani, Nina N.


Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) is used as a biological model for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Latency, persistence and reactivation are same of the important aspects of the murine model that share analogies with human CMV infections. In order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms leading to these events, in-depth analyses of the murine model are required at the transcriptional level. During the MCMV replication cycle, there is a sequential expression of different regions of the viral genome, hence the transcripts are divided into three kinetic classes; the immediate early (IE), early (E) and late (L). This study presents the analyses of MCMV (Smith strain) transcripts of the major IE and E transcriptional units, and a more detail analysis of one of the major E regions, E10. The IE and E transcripts were studied by probing them with Ctoitplementary DNAs (cDNAs). The cDNAs were prepared from mRNA isolated from the IE and E phases of the viral replication cycle and cloned into the bacteriophage Lambda gt10. Ten E cDNAs were mapped to specific locations of the virus genome, and these represented transcripts from the major E regions in Hindlll fragments A, B, E, F, and I-J. Five E cDNAs, each representing a different major E region, and two IE cDNAs representing the major IE region, were applied as probes in one of the studies to determine the relative transcript levels during the course of infection of 3T3L1 fibroblast cells with MCMV. The major E transcriptional units were investigated further in a study where Northern blots of RNAs, isolated from different phases of the viral replication cycle, were probed with the five E cDNAs. This study revealed transcripts that were temporally regulated since they were present only during the E and usually L phases of the viral replication cycle. In addition, the quantities of these transcripts varied depending on the phase. However, all five cDNAs detected more than one transcript which indicates complex splicing events, overlapping genes, multiple initiation sites and/or the presence of gene(s) in the complementary DNA strand. One of the E cDNAs, E10, corresponding to a transcript from a major E region of Hindlll fragment I-J, was selected for further analysis. The E10 cDNA detected four transcripts of 9.5, 6.9, 4.7 and 2.1 kb in size, which were found to be transcribed from the same DNA strand. The DNA sequence of this E10 cDNA was determined and shown to contain 3223 nucleotides, however it lacked a polyadenylation signal and a poly A tract at the 3' end. The missing 3' terminus, designated as E10-A, was isolated using the polymerase chain reaction (PCJR) method and its DNA sequence of 1422 nucleotides was also determined. The combined sequence of E10 and E10-A (total of 4606 nucleotides) was designated as E10-C and is presented in this thesis. The E10-C cDNA (4.6kbp) most likely represents the 4.7 kb transcript. The E10-C cDNA sequence has one minor and one major open reading frame (ORF). The minor ORF is initiated by the first ATG triplet (nucleotide position 114) while the major ORF is initiated by the second triplet (nucleotide position 155). Since the sequence preceeding the second ATG triplet is in "good context" with regard to the translation initiation consensus sequence, it is most likely that the major ORF is translated. The major ORF (3600 bases) encodes a 1200 amino acid polypeptide, the putative E10 protein of approximately 135 kd in size. A protein close to that size was detected in one of the experiments in which RNAs, that were hybrid-selected by the E10 cDNA and eluted, were translated in vitro. The putative E10 protein lacks homology with any other protein in the data banks (SWISSPRT and GENPEPT). Portions of the viral genomic fragments Hindlll I and J were also sequenced to reveal the orientation of the gene coding for the E10 cDNA and its related transcripts.

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