Introduction: . Herpesviruses may be defined as ‘Viruses of eukaryotes, having single, linear, double-stranded DNA genomes of ⩾120 kbp, which are replicated and packaged into icosahedral nucleocapsids of 100 nm diameter with 162 prismatic capsomers within the nuclei of infected cells and which are then enclosed in protein teguments and glycoprotein and lipid envelopes to give their infectious extracellular forms’ (Honess & Watson, 1977; Roizman, 1982). A number of additional properties should probably be considered as parts of an improved definition. Thus, the participation of essential virus-coded gene products in the replication of virus DNA (e.g. DNA polymerase, DNA-binding proteins), the formation of concatemeric replicative intermediates and their maturation into progeny genomes by site-specific recombination/cleavage reactions, are likely to prove important general features of productive cycles of herpesvirus growth. The regulation of herpesvirus gene expression during productive infections also has some rudimentary mechanisms in common (see below).


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