Promoter domains required for expression of plasmid-borne copies of the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene in virus-infected mouse fibroblasts and microinjected frog oocytes

S. P. Eisenberg, D. M. Coen, S. L. McKnight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations


A transient expression assay was used to measure the relative template activities of mutated tk genes in mouse L cells induced in trans by herpes simples virus (HSV). In this assay, expression of the wild-type HSV type 1 tk gene is induced at least 200-fold by the superinfecting virus. Genetic lesions that were assayed include 5' deletions, clustered base substitutions, single base substitutions, intrapromoter inversions, and intrapromoter recombinants with the HSV type 2 tk gene. Roughly half of the mutations that were tested were found to weaken tk expression efficiency, and the remaining mutations did not alter expression. The spatial distribution of mutations that reduce expression efficiency in trans-induced mouse fibroblasts facilitated the construction of a map of promoter domains. The most gene-proximal promoter domain is located between 16 and 32 base pairs (bp) upstream of the tk mRNA cap site and contains a TATA homology. Two more distally located promoter domains were mapped to discrete locations upstream from the TATA homology. One of these distal domains is located between 47 and 79 bp upstream from the mRNA cap site, and the other is located between 84 and 105 bp upstream from the tk gene. The boundaries of these three promoter domains, with one exception coincided with the set of domains delineated previously in a frog oocyte microinjection assay. The concordant behavior of tk promoter mutants in microinjected frog oocytes and trans-induced mouse fibroblasts leads us to propose that recognition and activation of the HSV tk promoter is mediated by cellular transcription factors that are common to frogs and mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1940-1947
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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