Henderson HH et al.
Regulation of gene transcription in varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a ubiquitous human neurotropic alphaherpesvirus, requires coordinated binding of multiple host and virus proteins onto specific regions of the virus genome. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is widely used to determine the location of specific proteins along a genomic region. Since the size range of sheared virus DNA fragments governs the limit of accurate protein localization, particularly for compact herpesvirus genomes, we used a quantitative PCR (qPCR)-based assay to determine the efficiency of VZV DNA shearing before ChIP, after which the assay was used to determine the relationship between transcript abundance and the occupancy of phosphorylated RNA polymerase II (RNAP) on the gene promoter, body, and terminus of VZV genes 9, 51, and 66. The abundance of VZV gene 9, 51, and 66 transcripts in VZV-infected human fetal lung fibroblasts was determined by reverse transcription-linked quantitative PCR. Our results showed that the C-terminal domain of RNAP is hyperphosphorylated at serine 5 (S5(P)) on VZV genes 9, 51, and 66 independently of transcript abundance and the location within the virus gene at both 1 and 3 days postinfection (dpi). In contrast, phosphorylated serine 2 (S2(P))-modified RNAP was not detected at any virus gene location at 3 dpi and was detected at levels only slightly above background levels at 1 dpi.