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Avian Dis. 2013 Jun;57(2 Suppl):340-50.

Marek's disease virus morphogenesis.

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INRA, UMR1282, Infectious Diseases and Public Health, ISP, BIOVA team, F-37380 Nouzilly, France.


Marek's disease virus (MDV) is a highly contagious virus that induces T-lymphoma in chicken. This viral infection still circulates in poultry flocks despite the use of vaccines. With the emergence of new virulent strains in the field over time, MDV remains a serious threat to the poultry industry. More than 40 yr after MDV identification as a herpesvirus, the visualization and purification of fully enveloped infectious particles remain a challenge for biologists. The various strategies used to detect such hidden particles by electron microscopy are reviewed herein. It is now generally accepted that the production of cell-free virions only occurs in the feather follicle epithelium and is associated with viral, cellular, or both molecular determinants expressed in this tissue. This tissue is considered the only source of efficient virus shedding into the environment and therefore the origin of successful transmission in birds. In other avian tissues or permissive cell cultures, MDV replication only leads to a very low number of intracellular enveloped virions. In the absence of detectable extracellular enveloped virions in cell culture, the nature of the transmitted infectious material and its mechanisms of spread from cell to cell remain to be deciphered. An attempt is made to bring together the current knowledge on MDV morphogenesis and spread, and new approaches that could help understand MDV morphogenesis are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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