Although genes related to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) open reading frame 35 (ORF35) are conserved in the herpesviruses, information about their contributions to viral replication and pathogenesis is limited. Using a VZV cosmid system, we deleted ORF35 to produce two null mutants, designated rOkaDelta35(#1) and rOkaDelta35(#2), and replaced ORF35 at a nonnative site, generating two rOkaDelta35/35@Avr mutants. ORF35 Flag-tagged recombinants were made by inserting ORF35-Flag at the nonnative Avr site as the only copy of ORF35, yielding rOkaDelta35/35Flag@Avr, or as a second copy, yielding rOka35Flag@Avr. Replication of rOkaDelta35 viruses was diminished in melanoma and Vero cells in a 6-day analysis of growth kinetics. Plaque sizes of rOkaDelta35 mutants were significantly smaller than those of rOka in melanoma cells. Infection of melanoma cells with rOkaDelta35 mutants was associated with disrupted cell fusion and polykaryocyte formation. The small plaque phenotype was not corrected by growth of rOkaDelta35 mutants in melanoma cells expressing the major VZV glycoprotein E, gE. The rOkaDelta35/35@Avr viruses displayed growth kinetics and plaque morphologies that were indistinguishable from those of rOka. Analysis with ORF35-Flag recombinants showed that the ORF35 gene product localized predominantly to the nuclei of infected cells. Evaluations in the SCIDhu mouse model demonstrated that ORF35 was required for efficient VZV infection of skin and T-cell xenografts, although the decrease in infectivity was most significant in skin. These mutagenesis experiments indicated that ORF35 was dispensable for VZV replication, but deleting ORF35 diminished growth in cultured cells and was associated with attenuated VZV infection of differentiated human skin and T cells in vivo.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.79.8.4819-4827.2005
View details for Web of Science ID 000228073700026
View details for PubMedID 15795267