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Virology. 1987 Nov;161(1):62-72.

Establishment and biological characterization of an in vitro human cytomegalovirus latency model.

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Department of Virology, Kanazawa University, Japan.


In an attempt to develop an in vitro human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) latency model system, the growth characteristics of HCMV in a human thyroid papillary carcinoma cell line (TPC-1) were examined. When TPC-1 cultures preheated at 40.5 degrees for 48 hr were infected with HCMV and incubated at a supraoptimal temperature (40.5 degrees), the cultures could be maintained for at least 65 days without detection of infectious virus. In contrast, when the infected cultures were incubated at 37 degrees, HCMV persistently infected cultures were established. HCMV was reactivated from the latently infected cultures by decreasing the incubation temperature from 40.5 to 37 degrees, and the cultures subsequently entered into virus persistent infection. Although HCMV-specific polypeptides which comigrate with the immediate early virus polypeptides and nuclear antigens were continuously detectable in the majority (more than 95%) of the cells during the latent period, a detectable level of virus-specified DNA polymerase (one of the early virus proteins) was not induced, suggesting that the blockage of HCMV replication in the latently infected cultures occurs at the early stages of the HCMV replication cycle. Infectious center assay revealed that 0.002 to 0.2% of the cells contain an HCMV genome that can be activated during the latent period. The latently infected cells were susceptible to superinfection with homologous and heterologous strains of HCMV. In persistently infected cultures approximately 38% of the cells were lysed by reaction with HCMV immune serum and complement, whereas complement-mediated immune cytolysis could not be detected in the latently infected cultures. The data presented suggest that a temperature-sensitive cellular function(s) that controls the expression of the HCMV early functions plays an important role in maintenance of the HCMV genome in the latent state and reactivation of HCMV by decreasing the incubation temperature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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