Importance of codon usage for the temporal regulation of viral gene expression

Young C. Shin, Georg F. Bischof, William A. Lauer, Ronald C. Desrosiers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The glycoproteins of herpesviruses and of HIV/SIV are made late in the replication cycle and are derived from transcripts that use an unusual codon usage that is quite different from that of the host cell. Here we show that the actions of natural transinducers from these two different families of persistent viruses (Rev of SIV and ORF57 of the rhesus monkey rhadinovirus) are dependent on the nature of the skewed codon usage. In fact, the transinducibility of expression of these glycoproteins by Rev and by ORF57 can be flipped simply by changing the nature of the codon usage. Even expression of a luciferase reporter could be made Rev dependent or ORF57 dependent by distinctive changes to its codon usage. Our findings point to a new general principle in which different families of persisting viruses use a poor codon usage that is skewed in a distinctive way totemporally regulate late expression of structural gene products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14030-14035
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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