The participation of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) immediate early genes in the activation of the expression of adenovirus genes in trans (trans-activation) was examined. The initial strategy used was to determine the ability of HCMV genes to complement mutants of adenovirus E1a, an immediate early gene which encodes a trans-activator. The HCMV immediate early gene regions IE1 and IE2 complemented E1a-deficient mutants in three separate assays. IE1 and IE2 substituted for E1a in the synthesis of infectious adenovirus, late adenovirus RNA, and adenovirus DNA. Complementation by the IE2 gene region alone, but not by IE1 alone, was observed using the most discriminating assay, that for late adenovirus RNA synthesis. A role for both HCMV gene regions in positive transcriptional control was indicated by their ability to increase expression of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) mediated by the adenovirus E2a promoter. The IE2 region alone activated CAT synthesis but IE1 alone had no detectable activity. Moreover, the activity of both gene regions was about 10-fold higher than that of IE2 alone. These data indicate that efficient complementation of E1a-deficient mutants and trans-activation of adenovirus early promoters involved the participation of both HCMV immediate early gene regions.
M. J. Tevethia, D. Spector, K. Leisure