The precise endpoints of the deletions/insertions in three variants (1704, 1705 and 1706) of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) strain 17 have been determined by dideoxynucleotide sequence analysis. The analysis was undertaken to discover whether the three variants had arisen from the same initial event and the extent of the deletions with respect to the latency-associated transcripts (LATs) and the proposed LAT promoter region. It is not possible from the deletion boundaries to determine unequivocally whether the three variants had arisen from the same recombination event although 1706 could be descended from 1705 by illegitimate recombination. The results demonstrate that spontaneous deletions can occur at random within R, the extent of the deletions in U is constrained by the essential nature of U genes but is otherwise arbitrary and deletions in 1704 completely remove both copies of the LAT promoter region and in IR extend into the 5′ end of the LAT sequence.


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