UL54-null pseudorabies virus is attenuated in mice but productively infects cells in culture

Jennifer A. Schwartz, Elizabeth E. Brittle, Ashley E. Reynolds, Lynn W. Enquist, Saul J. Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The pseudorabies virus (PRV) UL54 homologs are important multifunctional proteins with roles in shutoff of host protein synthesis, transactivation of virus and cellular genes, and regulation of splicing and translation. Here we describe the first genetic characterization of UL54. We constructed UL54 null mutations in a PRV bacterial artificial chromosome using sugar suicide and λRed allele exchange systems. Surprisingly, UL54 is dispensable for growth in tissue culture but exhibits a small-plaque phenotype that can be complemented in trans by both the herpes simplex virus type 1 ICP27 and varicella-zoster virus open reading frame 4 proteins. Deletion of UL54 in the virus vJSΔ54 had no effect on the ability of the virus to shut off host cell protein synthesis but did affect virus gene expression. The glycoprotein gC accumulated to lower levels in cells infected with vJSΔ54 compared to those infected with wild-type virus, while gK levels were undetectable. Other late gene products, gB, gE, and Us9, accumulated to higher levels than those seen in cells infected with wild-type virus in a multiplicity-dependent manner. DNA replication is also reduced in cells infected with vJSΔ54. UL54 appears to regulate UL53 and UL52 at the transcriptional level as their respective RNAs are decreased in cells infected with vJSΔ54. Interestingly, vJSΔ54 is highly attenuated in a mouse model of PRV infection. Animals infected with vJSΔ54 survive twice as long as animals infected with wild-type virus, and this results in delayed accumulation of virus-specific antigens in skin, dorsal root ganglia, and spinal cord tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-784
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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