Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) immediate-early (IE) 2 protein has been reported to be dispensable for growth and latency in mice. Therefore, its role in viral pathogenesis and tissue tropism is not known. Here we prepared specific antibodies to the IE2 and IE3 proteins by using fusion proteins expressed in Escherichia coli as antigens. Immunostaining of MCMV-infected cultured fibroblasts revealed IE2 protein to be expressed diffusely in the nucleoplasm similar to the IE1 protein. In contrast, expression of the IE3 protein, 88 kDa, exhibited a punctate pattern in the nucleus in the early phase of infection then diminished. In the brain of neonatal mice infected with MCMV, both IE2 and IE3 proteins were detected immunohistochemically in the cells of the ventricular walls early in infection. When the infection was prolonged, the IE2 protein was expressed in neurons of the cortex and hippocampus, while the IE3 protein was preferentially expressed in glial cells in the early phase of infection, and its levels declined during the infection. These results suggest that the IE2 protein may play a role in persistent infection in neurons, whereas the IE3 protein, expressed preferentially in glial cells, may play the main role in acute infection.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2006
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