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Human cytomegalovirus UL27 is not required for viral replication in human tissue implanted in SCID mice

Mark N Prichard1*, Debra C Quenelle1, Deborah J Bidanset1, Gloria Komazin3, Sunwen Chou2, John C Drach3 and Earl R Kern1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham AL, USA

2 Medical and Research Services, VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR

3 Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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Virology Journal 2006, 3:18  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-3-18

Published: 29 March 2006


Inhibition of the human cytomegalovirus UL97 kinase by maribavir is thought to be responsible for the antiviral activity of this compound. Some mutations that confer resistance to maribavir map to UL97, however additional mutations that also confer resistance to the drug were mapped to UL27. These open reading frames share a low level of homology, yet the function of pUL27 remains unknown. A recombinant virus with a deletion in the UL27 open reading frame was reported previously to exhibit a slight replication deficit, but a more important function in vivo was hypothesized given its homology to the UL97 kinase. The potential for an important function in vivo was investigated by determining if these knockout viruses could replicate in human tissue implanted in SCID mice. None of the AD169 derived viruses replicated well in the implanted thymus/liver tissue, and is consistent with previous observations, although all of the viruses replicated to some degree in retinal tissue implants. Replication of the parent viruses was observed at 7 days post inoculation, whereas no replication was detected with any of the recombinant viruses with deletions in UL27. By day 14, replication was detected in two of the three knockout viruses and in all of the viruses by day 42. These data are consistent with minimal defects observed in cell culture, but are not consistent with an important role for UL27 in vivo. We conclude that UL27 is not required for viral replication in vivo.