The herpes simplex virus 1 genome consists of one long and one short stretch of unique sequences flanked by inverted repeat sequences. The nucleotide sequence and RNA map predict 12 open reading frames designated as US1 through US12 within the short stretch of unique sequences. This paper reports the construction of virus mutants from which US2, US3, or US4 had been deleted that are capable of growth in cell culture. One of the three deleted genes, US4, specifies the viral envelope glycoprotein G. Mutants with deletions in US1, US8, US9, US10, US11, and US12 have been previously reported. The nine genes deleted from this region form two clusters, US1 through US4 and US8 through US12, and encode at least two and possibly more structural proteins. The presence of so many genes dispensable for growth in cell culture suggests several hypotheses regarding their function and evolution.
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