The genome structure of a spontaneously generated HSV-1 strain 17 variant, 1720, has been determined by restriction endonuclease and Southern blot analysis. The short segment of 1720 is unaltered compared to the parental strain 17 genome, whereas the long segment is extensively rearranged. Almost all of TRL (approximately 9.2 kb) has been deleted and consequently IRL is converted into unique sequence. Sequences from approximately 9200 nucleotide position (np) to 97,000 np are present in inverted orientation, covalently bound to sequences in the prototype orientation from approximately 94,000 np to the L/S junction at 126,372 np. Thus, sequences from 94,000 np to 97,000 np are now diploid, with one copy in the normal orientation and location, and the other at the long terminus as an inverted repeat; no inversion of the intervening unique sequences occurs about this novel inverted repeat. In contrast, normal inversions of the long and short segments occur to give four equimolar genomic isomers, indicating that the novel long terminus has gained an “a” sequence. The duplication of sequences between 94,000 np and 97,000 np results in a genome containing two copies of UL43 and one complete and one partial copy each of genes UL42 and UL44 encoding the 65 kD DNA-binding protein and glycoprotein C, respectively.
The variant has been shown to grow normally in vitro following high multiplicity infection.