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J Virol. 1998 Jan;72(1):320-9.

Functional identification and analysis of cis-acting sequences which mediate genome cleavage and packaging in human herpesvirus 6.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York 14642, USA.


Sequences present at the genomic termini of herpesviruses become linked during lytic-phase replication and provide the substrate for cleavage and packaging of unit length viral genomes. We have previously shown that homologs of the consensus herpesvirus cleavage-packaging signals, pac1 and pac2, are located at the left and right genomic termini of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), respectively. Immediately adjacent to these elements are two distinct arrays of human telomeric repeat sequences (TRS). We now show that the unique sequence element formed at the junction of HHV-6B genome concatemers (pac2-pac1) is necessary and sufficient for virally mediated cleavage of plasmid DNAs containing the HHV-6B lytic-phase origin of DNA replication (oriLyt). The concatemeric junction sequence also allowed for the packaging of these plasmid molecules into intracellular nucleocapsids as well as mature, infectious viral particles. In addition, this element significantly enhanced the replication efficiency of oriLyt-containing plasmids in virally infected cells. Experiments revealed that the concatemeric junction sequence possesses an unusual, S1 nuclease-sensitive conformation (anisomorphic DNA), which might play a role in this apparent enhancement of DNA replication--although additional studies will be required to test this hypothesis. Finally, we also analyzed whether the presence of flanking viral TRS had any effect on the functional activity of the minimal concatemeric junction (pac2-pac1). These experiments revealed that the TRS motifs, either alone or in combination, had no effect on the efficiency of virally mediated DNA replication or DNA cleavage. Taken together, these data show that the cleavage and packaging of HHV-6 DNA are mediated by cis-acting consensus sequences similar to those found in other herpesviruses, and that these sequences also influence the efficiency of HHV-6 DNA replication. Since the adjacent TRS do not influence either viral cleavage and packaging or viral DNA replication, their function remains uncertain.

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