A persistent infection with varicella-zoster virus was established in the Mewo human melanoma cell line. This persistently infected cell line went through periodic crises of virus-induced cell killing and then recovery. Analyses of viral DNA derived from the persistently infected cultures revealed that novel viral nucleic acid rearrangements had been generated. These viral DNA sequences were derived from a specific region of the inverted repeat sequence of the genome flanking the short unique genome segment. The novel DNA was of various lengths, each generated by tandem duplication of an approximately 2760 base pair sub-sequence of the normal viral inverted repeat. These novel sequences were inserted into an otherwise apparently normal genome.


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