The murine gammaherpesvirus (MHV-68) M11 gene encodes a protein with BH1 domain homology to Bcl-2. We found that the M11 gene product (MHVBcl-2) protected murine epithelial cells from TNF-α induced apoptosis. M11 was transcribed during early lytic infection in vitro. During early infection of mice, M11 message was detected in spleen and lung along with lytic cycle messages. During persistence, lytic cycle gene expression was undetectable but M11 RNA was still present. This suggests that MHVBcl-2 promotes virus survival by protecting not only productively infected but also persistently infected cells from apoptotic death.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2000
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