The comprise a large class of animal viruses of considerable public health importance. Of the , replication of herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) has been the most extensively studied. The linear 152-kbp HSV-1 genome contains three origins of DNA replication and approximately 75 open-reading frames. Of these frames, seven encode proteins that are required for origin-specific DNA replication. These proteins include a processive heterodimeric DNA polymerase, a single-strand DNA-binding protein, a heterotrimeric primosome with 5′-3′ DNA helicase and primase activities, and an origin-binding protein with 3′-5′ DNA helicase activity. HSV-1 also encodes a set of enzymes involved in nucleotide metabolism that are not required for viral replication in cultured cells. These enzymes include a deoxyuridine triphosphatase, a ribonucleotide reductase, a thymidine kinase, an alkaline endo-exonuclease, and a uracil-DNA glycosylase. Host enzymes, notably DNA polymerase α-primase, DNA ligase I, and topoisomerase II, are probably also required.

Following circularization of the linear viral genome, DNA replication very likely proceeds in two phases: an initial phase of theta replication, initiated at one or more of the origins, followed by a rolling-circle mode of replication. The latter generates concatemers that are cleaved and packaged into infectious viral particles. The rolling-circle phase of HSV-1 DNA replication has been reconstituted in vitro by a complex containing several of the HSV-1 encoded DNA replication enzymes. Reconstitution of the theta phase has thus far eluded workers in the field and remains a challenge for the future.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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