Expression profiling of the intermediate and late stages of poxvirus replication. Academic Article uri icon


  • The double-stranded DNA genome of vaccinia virus (VACV), the prototype poxvirus, contains approximately 200 open reading frames (ORFs) that are transcribed at early, intermediate, and late stages of infection. Previous high-throughput deep RNA sequencing allowed us to map 118 VACV early genes that are expressed before viral DNA replication and 93 postreplicative genes. However, the intermediate- and late-stage postreplicative genes could not be differentiated. Here, we synchronized infections with a reversible inhibitor of DNA replication and used a VACV mutant that conditionally transcribes late genes to sequence the two classes of mRNAs. In addition, each postreplicative ORF was individually expressed under conditions that distinguished intermediate and late classes. We identified 38 VACV genes that belong to the late class and 53 that belong to the intermediate class, with some of the latter continuing to be expressed late. These data allowed us to prepare a genome-wide early, intermediate, and late transcription map. Inspection of sequences upstream of these ORFs revealed distinctive characteristics of intermediate and late promoters and suggested that some promoters have intermediate and late elements. The intermediate genes encoded many DNA binding/packaging and core-associated proteins in addition to late transcription factors; the late genes encoded many morphogenesis and mature virion membrane proteins, including those involved in entry, in addition to early transcription factors. The top-ranked antigens for CD4(+) T cells and B cells were mainly intermediate rather than late gene products. The differentiation of intermediate and late genes may enhance understanding of poxvirus replication and lead to improvements in expression vectors and recombinant vaccines.

published proceedings

  • J Virol

author list (cited authors)

  • Yang, Z., Reynolds, S. E., Martens, C. A., Bruno, D. P., Porcella, S. F., & Moss, B.

citation count

  • 106

complete list of authors

  • Yang, Zhilong||Reynolds, Sara E||Martens, Craig A||Bruno, Daniel P||Porcella, Stephen F||Moss, Bernard

publication date

  • October 2011