The assembly of specific multiprotein complexes on the herpes simplex virus alpha/IE (immediate early) enhancer elements requires the interactions of the Oct-1 POU homeodomain, the viral alpha TIF (alpha-trans-induction factor) (VP16), and at least one additional cellular factor, the C1 factor. The C1 factor interacts directly with alpha TIF, likely forming an intermediate protein complex that recognizes the Oct-1 homeodomain-DNA complex. The biochemical purification of the mammalian C1 factor suggests that it is composed of multiple subunits of related, but heterogeneous, polypeptides. The interaction of a subset of these polypeptides with alpha TIF is stimulated by post-translational modifications of the C1 proteins, suggesting that this factor may be a critical target for the regulation of the herpes simplex virus alpha/IE transcription.
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