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The herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase is expressed in the testes of transgenic mice under the control of a cryptic promoter.

TitleThe herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase is expressed in the testes of transgenic mice under the control of a cryptic promoter.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1991
Authorsal-Shawi R, Burke J, Wallace H, Jones C, Harrison S, Buxton D, Maley S, Chandley A, Bishop JO
JournalMol Cell Biol
Date Published1991 Aug
KeywordsAnimals, Blotting, Northern, Gene Expression, Genes, Viral, Immunohistochemistry, Infertility, Male, Male, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Organ Specificity, Plasmids, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Restriction Mapping, RNA, Simplexvirus, Testis, Thymidine Kinase, Viral Structural Proteins

We reported previously that the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) thymidine kinase reporter gene (tk) was expressed in the testes of transgenic mice when coupled to the promoter of a liver-specific mouse major urinary protein (MUP) gene. Here we show that HSV-1 tk is also expressed in the testis when coupled to a MUP pseudogene promoter, to a truncated MUP promoter that is not active in the liver, and to the promoter of the bovine thyroglobulin gene. Furthermore, HSV-1 tk itself was expressed in the testis, although its normal expression had been disabled by removing an upstream regulator of transcription. In every case, the same multiple transcripts were observed, with their 5' ends located downstream of the normal HSV-1 tk translation initiation codon. We conclude that the transcription of HSV-1 tk in the testis is directed by a cryptic TATA box-independent promoter located in the coding region of the gene. The longest HSV-1 thymidine kinase (TK) polypeptides synthesized in the testis were shorter than full-length TK and probably result from translational initiation at Met46 and Met60, the second and third ATG codons of the tk reading frame. Male mice of most transgenic lines were sterile, and the severity of the lesion in spermatogenesis was directly related to the level of TK expression. In the most highly expressing lines, sperm counts were low and morphologically defective sperm were common. In other sterile lines, TK was expressed at a lower level and sperm counts were normal but sperm motility was greatly reduced. Lines with the lowest levels of HSV-1 TK expression were fertile. HSV-1 TK was expressed in germ line cells, mainly in the haploid spermatids. However, low-level HSV-1 TK activity was found in the testis before the first germ cells entered meiosis, showing that if expression is confined to the germ cells, it also occurs in spermatogonia.

Alternate JournalMol. Cell. Biol.
PubMed ID1712906
PubMed Central IDPMC361244