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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The r144 major histocompatibility complex class I-like gene of rat cytomegalovirus is dispensable for both acute and long-term infection in the immunocompromised host.

The rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) r144 gene encodes a polypeptide homologous to major histocompatibility complex class I heavy chains. To study the role of r144 in virus replication, an RCMV r144 null mutant strain (RCMVDeltar144) was generated. This strain replicated with efficiency similar to that of wild-type (WT) RCMV in vitro. Additionally, WT RCMV and RCMVDeltar144 were found not to differ in their replication characteristics in vivo. First, the survival rate was similar among groups of immunosuppressed rats infected with either RCMVDeltar144 or WT RCMV. Second, the dissemination of virus did not differ in either RCMVDeltar144- or WT RCMV-infected, immunosuppressed rats, either in the acute phase of infection or approximately 1 year after infection. These data indicate that the RCMV r144 gene is essential neither for virus replication in the acute phase of infection nor for long-term infection in immunocompromised rats. Interestingly, in a local infection model in which footpads of immunosuppressed rats were inoculated with virus, a significantly higher number of infiltrating macrophage cells as well as of CD8(+) T cells was observed in WT RCMV-infected paws than in RCMVDeltar144-infected paws. This suggests that r144 might function in the interaction with these leukocytes in vivo.[1]


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