BoHV-4 replication cycle is dependent on the S-phase of the cell-cycle at the stage of viral DNA synthesis. Because p21 is a rate-limiting regulator of the G1/S-phase transition and up-regulated by DNA-damaging agents, in this study p21 expression in BoHV-4 infected cells was investigated. The p21 promoter was found to be highly activated in a dose- and time-dependent manner following BoHV-4 infection only in cells which are permissive for BoHV-4 replication. Thus p21 expression reports on BoHV-4 replication and could represent a host cell defensive response to infection-associated cellular damage. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.