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J Virol. 2001 Jun;75(11):5189-96.

A herpes simplex virus type 1 gamma34.5 second-site suppressor mutant that exhibits enhanced growth in cultured glioblastoma cells is severely attenuated in animals.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Kaplan Comprehensive Cancer Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA.


We describe here the neurovirulence properties of a herpes simplex virus type 1 gamma34.5 second-site suppressor mutant. gamma34.5 mutants are nonneurovirulent in animals and fail to grow in a variety of cultured cells due to a block at the level of protein synthesis. Extragenic suppressors with restored capacity to replicate in cells that normally do not support the growth of the parental gamma34.5 deletion mutant have been isolated. Although the suppressor virus reacquires the ability to grow in nonpermissive cultured cells, it remains severely attenuated in mice and is indistinguishable from the mutant gamma34.5 parent virus at the doses investigated. Repairing the gamma34.5 mutation in the suppressor mutant restores neurovirulence to wild-type levels. These studies illustrate that (i) the protein synthesis and neurovirulence defects observed in gamma34.5 mutant viruses can be genetically separated by an extragenic mutation at another site in the viral chromosome; (ii) the extragenic suppressor mutation does not affect neurovirulence; and (iii) the attenuated gamma34.5 mutant, which replicates poorly in many cell types, can be modified by genetic selection to generate a nonpathogenic variant that regains the ability to grow robustly in a nonpermissive glioblastoma cell line. As this gamma34.5 second-site suppressor variant is attenuated and replicates vigorously in neoplastic cells, it may have potential as a replication-competent, viral antitumor agent.

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