Characterization of a spontaneous 9.5-kilobase-deletion mutant of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 reveals tissue-specific genetic requirements for latency

Eric T. Clambey, Herbert W. Virgin IV, Samuel H. Speck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (γHV68 [also known as MHV-68]) establishes a latent infection in mice, providing a small-animal model with which to identify host and viral factors that regulate gammaherpesvirus latency. While γHV68 establishes a latent infection in multiple tissues, including splenocytes and peritoneal cells, the requirements for latent infection within these tissues are poorly defined. Here we report the characterization of a spontaneous 9.5-kb-deletion mutant of γHV68 that lacks the M1, M2, M3, and M4 genes and eight viral tRNA-like genes. Previously, this locus has been shown to contain the latency-associated M2, M3, and viral tRNA-like genes. Through characterization of this mutant, we found that the M1, M2, M3, M4 genes and the viral tRNA-like genes are dispensable for (i) in vitro replication and (ii) the establishment and maintenance of latency in vivo and reactivation from latency following intraperitoneal infection. In contrast, following intranasal infection with this mutant, there was a defect in splenic latency at both early and late times, a phenotype not observed in peritoneal cells. These results indicate (i) that there are different genetic requirements for the establishment of latency in different latent reservoirs and (ii) that the genetic requirements for latency depend on the route of infection. While some of these phenotypes have been observed with specific mutations in the M1 and M2 genes, other phenotypes have never been observed with the available γHV68 mutants. These studies highlight the importance of loss-of-function mutations in defining the genetic requirements for the establishment and maintenance of herpesvirus latency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6532-6544
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Volume76
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 25 2002

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