Li ZhuFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Julia K Hilliard - Chair

Second Advisor

Teryl Frey

Third Advisor

Margo Brinton


B virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1), which causes an often fatal zoonotic infection in humans, shares extensive homology with human herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The ƒ×134.5 gene of HSV-1 plays a major role in counteracting dsRNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) activity. HSV-1 Us11 protein, if expressed early as a result of mutation, binds to PKR and prevents PKR activation. The results of experiments in this dissertation revealed that although B virus lacks a ƒ×134.5 gene homolog, it is able to inhibit PKR activation, and subsequently, eIF2ƒÑ phosphorylation. The initial hypothesis was that B virus Us11 protein substitutes for the function of ƒ×134.5 gene homolog by blocking cellular PKR activation. Using western blot analysis, Us11 protein (20 kDa) of B virus was observed early following infection (3 h post infection). Expression of B virus Us11 protein was not blocked by phosphonoacetic acid (PAA), an inhibitor of DNA replication, confirming Us11 is not a ¡§true late¡¨ gene of B virus as it is in HSV-1. Analysis of these results suggested that B virus Us11 protein compensates for the lack of the ƒ×134.5 gene homolog and prevents PKR activation. Next, the results demonstrated that B virus Us11 recombinant protein prevented PKR activation by dsRNA in vitro. A B virus Us11 protein stable expression cell line (U373-BVUs11) was established to investigate whether Us11 protein inhibited PKR activation in vivo. Experiments revealed that B virus Us11 protein stably expressed in U373 cells prevented PKR activation and subsequent eIF2ƒÑ phosphorylation induced by the infection of these cells with ƒ´ƒ×134.5 of HSV-1. As the consequence of preventing PKR activation and subsequent eIF2ƒÑ phosphorylation, B virus Us11 protein complemented ƒ´ƒ×134.5 HSV-1 in U373 cells as evidenced by restoration of virus protein synthesis and replication in U373 cells. Furthermore, pull-down assays showed that B virus Us11 protein binds to PKR. In addition, the results demonstrated that B virus Us11 protein stably expressed in U373 cells counteracted the inhibiting effect of IFN-ƒÑ on HSV-1 replication by preventing PKR activation. These data suggested that B virus and HSV-1, two closely related viruses, use different mechanisms to counteract PKR activity.


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