Introduction. Herpesviruses infect a wide range of vertebrates and are important human and animal pathogens: in a number of cases infection persists for very long periods, in a latent form, with occasional episodes of overt typical disease. In addition, several herpesviruses have been shown to be the causative agent of tumour formation in their normal hosts (e.g. Lucké frog tumour virus) or in related species (e.g. herpesvirus saimiri). Indirect evidence exists for the involvement of Epstein-Barr virus and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in human cancers. Thus there exist good reasons for the pursuit and identification of the mechanisms of herpesvirus infection and replication.

From the molecular virological standpoint, herpesviruses also offer an important system for study. This large virus has the potential to code for about one hundred genes and the identification of these gene products, their function and their control poses many interesting questions.


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