5-Azacytidine (5-AZC) reduces cytosine methylation in DNA and has been reported to activate quiescent virus genes. Treatment of explant cultures of latently herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)-infected guinea-pig dorsal root ganglia and spinal cords with 5-AZC significantly enhanced the rate of HSV recovery. Both the number of isolates from ganglia ( < 0.001) and the rate of recovery ( < 0.001) were significantly increased with the addition of 50 µ-5-AZC to explant cultures. Increased virus recovery appeared to be due to the induction of reactivation of latent virus, rather than an increase in replication, since 5-AZC inhibited HSV replication. These data support a role for methylation in HSV latency and reactivation.

Keyword(s): 5-azacytidine , HSV-2 , latency and methylation

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