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Mol Cell Biol. 1988 Apr;8(4):1443-8.

Hypomethylation of host cell DNA synthesized after infection or transformation of cells by herpes simplex virus.

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MRC Institute of Virology, Glasgow, United Kingdom.


Infection of rat embryo cells with herpes simplex virus type 2 caused undermethylation of host cell DNA synthesized during infection. DNA made prior to infection was not demethylated, but some of its degradation products, including methyl dCMP, were incorporated into viral DNA. The use of mutant virus showed that some viral DNA synthesis appears to be required for the inhibition of methylation. Inhibition of methylation cannot be explained by an absence of DNA methyltransferase as the activity of this enzyme did not change during the early period of infection. Inhibition of host cell DNA methylation may be an important step in the transformation of cells by herpesviruses, and various transformed cell lines tested showed reduced levels of DNA methylation.

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