The equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) homolog of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) tegument phosphoprotein, αTIF (Vmw65; VP16), was identified previously as the product of open reading frame 12 (ORF12) and shown to transactivate immediate early (IE) gene promoters. However, a specific virion protein corresponding to the ORF12 product has not been identified definitively. In the present study the ORF12 protein, designated ETIF, was identified as a 60-kDa virion component on the basis of protein fingerprint analyses in which the limited proteolysis profiles of the major 60-kDa in vitro transcription/translation product of an ORF12 expression vector (pT7-12) were compared to those of purified virion proteins of similar size. ETIF was localized to the viral tegument in Western blot assays of EHV-1 virions and subvirion fractions using polyclonal antiserum and monoclonal antibodies generated against a glutathione-S-transferase-ETIF fusion protein. Northern and Western blot analyses of EHV-1-infected cell lysates prepared under various metabolic blocks indicated that ORF12 is expressed as a late gene, and cross reaction of polyclonal anti-GST-ETIF with a 63.5-kDa HSV-1 protein species suggested that ETIF and HSV-1 αTIF are antigenically related. Last, DNA band shift assays used to assess ETIF-specific complex formation indicated that ETIF participates in an infected cell protein complex with the EHV-1 IE promoter TAATGARAT motif.
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