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Rev Med Virol. 2001 May-Jun;11(3):191-200.

A review of genetic differences between limited and extensively passaged human cytomegalovirus strains.

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Aviron, 297 N. Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.


The complete genetic content of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has been difficult to determine, since most strains studied in the laboratory have been extensively passaged in human fibroblast cultures which can change the genetic content as well as the biological properties of the virus. Approximately 13 kb of novel DNA sequences located near the right edge of the unique long (UL) component of the genome has been discovered in Toledo, clinical isolates and certain stocks of Towne. This region of novel sequence, designated the UL/b' region, encodes several interesting proteins including vCXC-1, a potent IL-8 homologue, and UL144, a member of the TNF receptor family. This region is missing from the prototypic laboratory variants of Towne and AD169. In contrast to Toledo and other low passage isolates which have relatively small repeats bracketing the UL component, the Towne and AD169 laboratory variants contain large (>10 kb) b/b' repeats. The large size of these repeats in AD169 and Towne appear to have arisen as compensation for the loss of sequences from the UL/b' region that existed in less passaged variants of these strains. Consequently, many of the haploid genes at the left edge of the prototypic wild-type (wt) UL component are diploid in AD169 and Towne. We hypothesise that this plasticity of the genome at the right edge of the UL component results from extensive passage and adaptation to replication in fibroblasts in vitro. Further work will be required to understand the complete genetic content of wt HCMV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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