Infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV) results in an increase in the transcription of the endogenous Alu repeated sequence by RNA polymerase III. This effect is also observed in uninfected cells stably transformed with a plasmid expressing the HSV immediate-early protein ICP27 or in cells transfected with the gene encoding this protein. Both uninfected cells expressing ICP27 and cells infected with virus producing functional ICP27 display increased activity of the cellular transcription factor TFIIIC when compared with untreated cells. This increase is not observed, however, in cells infected with a mutant strain of virus which does not produce ICP27. Hence ICP27 induces elevated Alu transcription by activating transcription factor TFIIIC, which is the limiting factor for such transcription. This is the first report of increased activity of a cellular transcription factor during HSV infection, when most cellular gene activity is inhibited.

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