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A biophysical study of intranuclear herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA during lytic infection Open Access


Other title
pharmacological CDK inhibitors
unstable nucleosome
herpes simplex virus
micrococcal nuclease
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lacasse, Jonathan J
Supervisor and department
Schang, Luis (Biochemistry and Medical Microbiology and Immunology)
Examining committee member and department
Hobman, Tom (Cell Biology)
Hendzel, Michael (Oncology)
Kristie, Thomas (Laboratory of Viral Disease, NIAID)
Schultz, Michael (Biochemistry)
Department of Biochemistry

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) establishes latent infections in neurons in vivo and lytic infections in epithelial cells and fibroblasts. During latent infections, HSV-1 transcription is restricted and the genomes are not replicated. Latent HSV-1 genomes are chromatinized, such that digestion with micrococcal nuclease (MCN) releases DNA fragments with sizes characteristic of nucleosomal DNA. During lytic infections, in contrast, all HSV-1 genes are expressed, the genomes are replicated, and their digestion produces primarily heterogeneously sized fragments. However, as evaluated by ChIP assays, HSV-1 DNA interacts with histones during lytic infections, although in most cases only a small percentage of HSV-1 DNA co-immunoprecipitates with histones (or is cleaved to nucleosome sizes following MCN digestion). Therefore, although current models propose that chromatin regulates HSV-1 transcription, it remains unclear how the association of histones with only a small percentage of HSV-1 DNA can globally regulate viral transcription. Moreover, the physical properties of the complexes containing histones and HSV-1 DNA are unknown. My objective was therefore to evaluate the biophysical properties of the HSV-1 DNA-containing complexes during lytic infection. Differing from pervious studies, however, I used classical chromatin purification techniques. I show that most HSV-1 DNA is in unstable nucleoprotein complexes and, consequently, more accessible to MCN than DNA in cellular chromatin. This HSV-1 DNA is protected from MCN redigestion only after crosslinking, similar to unstable cellular nucleosomes. HSV-1 DNA is in such complexes throughout lytic infection. Using unrelated small-molecule inhibitors, I further show that inhibition of HSV-1 transcription is associated with a decrease in MCN accessibility of HSV-1 DNA. Roscovitine, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, prevents activation but not elongation of IE, E, and L HSV-1 transcription. Consistent with a functional association between accessibility and transcription, roscovitine only decreases the accessibility of DNA templates of which it also inhibits transcription, independent of specific promoter sequences. In summary, I show that most HSV-1 DNA is in unstable nucleosome-like complexes during lytic infection and that accessibility to HSV-1 DNA likely plays a key role in regulating HSV-1 transcription.
License granted by Jonathan Lacasse ( on 2010-08-31T17:14:15Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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