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J Gen Virol. 2003 Jun;84(Pt 6):1393-401.

Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus resistant to aciclovir.

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GlaxoSmithKline, UK Virology Medicines Research Centre, Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2NY, UK.


A panel of 10 clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus (HSV) deficient in the expression of thymidine kinase (TK) and phenotypically resistant to aciclovir was characterized. Sequence analysis revealed a variety of mutations in TK (nucleotide substitutions, insertions and deletions), most of which resulted in truncated TK polypeptides. In line with previous reports, the most common mutation was a single G insertion in the 'G-string' motif. One HSV-1 isolate and two HSV-2 isolates appeared to encode full-length polypeptides and, in each case, an amino acid substitution likely to be responsible for the phenotype was identified. Pathogenicity was determined using a zosteriform model of HSV infection in BALB/c mice. The majority of isolates appeared to show impaired growth at the inoculation site compared with wild-type virus. They also showed poor replication in the peripheral nervous system and little evidence of zosteriform spread. One exception was isolate 4, which had a double G insertion in the G-string but, nevertheless, exhibited zosteriform spread. These studies confirmed that TK-deficient viruses display a range of neurovirulence with respect to latency and zosteriform spread. These results are discussed in the light of previous experience with TK-deficient viruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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