The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) latency-associated transcript (LAT) is abundantly expressed in latently infected neurons. In the rabbit or mouse ocular models of infection, expression of the first 1.5 kb of LAT coding sequences is sufficient for and necessary for wild-type levels of spontaneous reactivation from latency. The antiapoptosis functions of LAT, which maps to the same 1.5 kb of LAT, are important for the latency-reactivation cycle because replacement of LAT with other antiapoptosis genes (the baculovirus IAP gene or the bovine herpesvirus type 1 latency-related gene) restores wild-type levels of reactivation to a LAT null mutant. A recent study identified a micro-RNA within LAT that can inhibit apoptosis (Gupta et al, Nature 442: 82-85). In this study, the authors analyzed the first 1.5 kb of LAT for additional small RNAs that may have regulatory functions. Two LAT-specific small RNAs were detected in productively infected human neuroblastoma cells within the first 1.5 kb of LAT, in a region that is important for inhibiting apoptosis. Although these small RNAs possess extensive secondary structure and a stem-loop structure, bands migrating near 23 bases were not detected suggesting these small RNAs are not true micro-RNAs. Both of the small LAT-specific RNAs have the potential to base pair with the ICP4 mRNA. These two small LAT RNAs may play a role in the latency-reactivation cycle by reducing apoptosis and/or by reducing ICP4 RNA expression.
- Latency associated transcript (LAT)
- Small regulatory RNAs
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience