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Virology. 2009 Mar 30;386(1):132-8. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2008.12.030. Epub 2009 Jan 26.

The impact of genome length on replication and genome stability of the herpesvirus guinea pig cytomegalovirus.

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Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine P.O. Box 980163, Richmond Virginia 23298-0163, USA.


The impact of genome length on replication and genome stability was assessed for guinea pig cytomegalovirus (GPCMV), a member of the Herpesviridae. The 233-kb genome could be decreased by 15.1 kb without discernable impact on viral replication efficiency in vitro. Viruses with genomes under-length by up to 31 kb replicated with decreased efficiencies but this appeared to arise from the loss of augmenting viral genes rather than decreased genome length. Two deletions that were non-lethal on their own were lethal when combined, suggesting that the resulting 40.1 kb under-length genome fell below a minimum packageable size. Genomes over-length by 8.8 kb gave rise to spontaneous deletions just to the right of the major immediate early locus, the same region that undergoes deletions during fibroblast passage of human and rhesus cytomegaloviruses. These results suggest that genome integrity should be confirmed for herpesvirus mutants in which genome length is increased even modestly.

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