Herpesvirus (h.) saimiri, an infectious agent of squirrel monkeys, is capable of persisting in T lymphocytes of various primate species. It has been used as a vector for the functional analysis of regulatory genes in primary human T lymphocytes. As it is not yet known whether other cell types are capable of supporting viral persistence, various human cell lines were investigated using selectable h. saimiri recombinants. The lines chosen represent cells from the epithelium and connective tissue as well as from all haematopoietic lineages, i.e. cells of B and T lymphoid origin as well as myeloid-, fibroblast- and carcinoma-derived cultures converted to Geneticin or hygromycin B resistance, and harbouring episomal DNA of the selectable recombinants. The Burkitt's lymphoma-derived cell line Raji also contained simultaneously persisting episomes of the Epstein—Barr virus. Most of the cell cultures except a pancreatic carcinoma line and foreskin fibroblasts did not produce infectious virus. These observations show that a herpesvirus genome can persist episomally in a broad range of cultured cell types. The variety of infectable cell types and species suggests the presence of a widely distributed and well conserved virus receptor for h. saimiri. Thus the h. saimiri genome could be applied more generally as a vector.


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