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Cell. 1980 Nov;22(1 Pt 1):243-55.

Molecular engineering of the herpes simplex virus genome: insertion of a second L-S junction into the genome causes additional genome inversions.


We have developed a technique for the insertion of any DNA fragment into the herpes simplex virus (HSV) genome at specific sites. This technique was used to resolve a specific problem concerning the isomerization of the HSV genome. Briefly, HSV DNA consists of four isomers differing in the orientation of two covalently linked components, L and S, relative to each other. Each component consists of unique sequences flanked by inverted repeats. To determine whether the isomerization of HSV DNA is the result of generalized recombinatin between homologous reiterated sequences in the inverted repeats or the result of site-specific recombination, we constructed plasmids in which DNA fragments derived from various regions of the viral genome were inserted in both orientations into the thymidine kinase gene, rendering it nonfunctional. The HSV DNA sequences in the plasmids were then recombined into the viral genome, and viral recombinants were selected for their thymidine kinase-deficient phenotype. The insertion of these fragments by homologous recombination was highly efficient in that all the viral clones isolated contained the inserted fragment at the expected location. The only fragments that promoted additional inversions of the viral genome were those spanning the junction between the L and S components. Furthermore, analysis of isomers formed by these recombinants indicates that the inversions occur only when sequences in the inserted fragment are in inverted orientation in relation to homologous sequences at the termini or at the authentic junction.

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