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J Virol. 2003 Jun;77(12):6620-36.

Complete sequence and genomic analysis of rhesus cytomegalovirus.

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  • 1Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton, Oregon 97006, USA.


The complete DNA sequence of rhesus cytomegalovirus (RhCMV) strain 68-1 was determined with the whole-genome shotgun approach on virion DNA. The RhCMV genome is 221,459 bp in length and possesses a 49% G+C base composition. The genome contains 230 potential open reading frames (ORFs) of 100 or more codons that are arranged colinearly with counterparts of previously sequenced betaherpesviruses such as human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Of the 230 RhCMV ORFs, 138 (60%) are homologous to known HCMV proteins. The conserved ORFs include the structural, replicative, and transcriptional regulatory proteins, immune evasion elements, G protein-coupled receptors, and immunoglobulin homologues. Interestingly, the RhCMV genome also contains sequences with homology to cyclooxygenase-2, an enzyme associated with inflammatory processes. Closer examination identified a series of candidate exons with the capacity to encode a full-length cyclooxygenase-2 protein. Counterparts of cyclooxygenase-2 have not been found in other sequenced herpesviruses. The availability of the complete RhCMV sequence along with the ability to grow RhCMV in vitro will facilitate the construction of recombinant viral strains for identifying viral determinants of CMV pathogenicity in the experimentally infected rhesus macaque and to the development of CMV as a vaccine vector.

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