The phosphorylation of arabinofuranosylthymine (araThd) has been studied both in non-infected cells and in those infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV-1, Lennette; HSV-1, IES and HSV-2, D-316). In these experiments, HSV strains were used which either contain (Lennette, TK and D-316 TK) or lack (IES, TK) the capacity to induce pyrimidine deoxyribonucleoside kinase. It was found that extracellularly administered araThd is phosphorylated to araTTP via araTMP and araTDP in both non-infected and in HSV-infected cells. The phosphorylating capacity is more than tenfold lower in non-infected cells than in infected cells. Interestingly, cells infected with the TK strain have a tenfold higher phosphorylating capacity than normal, uninfected cells, a fact which might indicate that host cell deoxythymidine kinase is induced during HSV infection. AraTMP is incorporated into cellular DNA but not into HSV DNA. This finding is in contrast to observations with arabinofuranosyladenine, which is incorporated into both cellular and HSV DNA. experiments with HSV-induced DNA polymerase show that araTTP strongly inhibits the enzyme activity. Therefore we conclude that the inhibition of HSV DNA polymerase by araTTP (formed intracellularly from araThd) is the explanation for the observed antiviral activity of araThd.


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