The herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2, strain 333) UL3 open reading frame (ORF) codes for a protein with a predicted molecular weight of 29,681. Comparisons of the UL3, strain 333 ORF show essentially complete amino acid identity with HSV-2 (strain HG52) and a 75% amino acid identity with HSV type 1 (strain 17). To characterize the expression of this gene, a hydrophilic region of the HSV-2 UL3 gene was cloned into a bacterial expression vector. The resulting fusion protein was used to generate antibodies in rabbits. In vitro translation of HSV-2-derived mRNA followed by immunoprecipitation with the rabbit antisera reveals a major 28,000-Da protein as judged by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. This is consistent with the predicted molecular weight of an unmodified UL3 protein. Pulse-labeling of infected cells, with [35S]methionine, followed by immunoprecipitation and electrophoretic analysis reveals three distinct bands of 28,000, 30,500, and 33,000 Da. Labeling infected cells with [32P]orthophosphate shows that the 30,500- and the 33,000-Da species are post-translationally phosphorylated. The 30,500-Da species can be converted to the 28,000-Da species with alkaline phosphatase treatment. Interestingly, the 33,000-Da species is resistant to this treatment. Immunohistochemical analysis of infected cells reveals that the UL3 protein has a perinuclear location early in infection and at later times becomes associated with the nucleus as discrete particles. A mutant of HSV, which has a major deletion of the UL3 coding region does not show any immunohistochemical staining with the UL3 antisera. The wild-type virus-infected cell staining pattern remains the same subsequent to DNAse and RNAse treatment, indicating that the UL3 protein product is not directly associated with nucleic acid.
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