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Virology. 2008 Sep 15;379(1):45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2008.06.018. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Identification of a 1.6 kb genome locus of guinea pig cytomegalovirus required for efficient viral growth in animals but not in cell culture.

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Department of Virology I, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan.


Guinea pig cytomegalovirus (GPCMV) provides a useful model for studies of congenital CMV infection. During characterization of the GPCMV genome sequence, we identified two types of strains in a virus stock purchased from ATCC. One of them, GPCMV/del, lacks a 1.6 kb locus that positionally corresponds to murine CMV (MCMV) M129-M133. Growth of GPCMV/del in cell culture was marginally better than that of the other strain, GPCMV/full, which harbors the 1.6 kb locus. However, in animals infected intraperitoneally with virus stocks containing both strains, GPCMV/full disseminated more efficiently than GPCMV/del, including 200-fold greater viral load in salivary glands. Viral DNA, transcripts of the immediate-early 2 gene homolog, and viral antigens were more abundant in animals infected with GPCMV/full than in those infected with GPCMV/del. Although the observed phenomena have some similarity with the growth properties of MCMV strains defective in mck-1/mck-2(M129/131) and those defective in sgg(M132), no M129-M132 homologs were found in the 1.6 kb locus. Since one of the ORFs in the locus has a weak sequence similarity with HCMV UL130, which relates to cell tropism, further studies will be required to learn the mechanism for efficient GPCMV growth in animal.

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