The linear virion DNA of bovine herpesvirus type 4 (BHV-4) is flanked by tandem repeats designated polyrepetitive DNA (prDNA). To investigate the structure and functional role of the prDNA for cleavage/packaging of progeny viral DNA, the complete nucleotide sequence (2267 bp) of a cloned prDNA unit of BHV-4 was determined. Moreover, the terminal fragments of the genome and the junctions between prDNA and the central unique DNA were analysed. In order to characterize the function of the prDNA of BHV-4, a transient packaging assay was developed. The prDNA has a G+C content of 71.1%. Its structure is composed of numerous internal repeats and every unit contains the conserved sequence of the cleavage/packaging signal. A fragment of 443 bp comprising the cleavage/packaging signal was found to be sufficient for cleavage and encapsidation of replicated concatemeric viral DNA. These results suggest that prDNA is a functionally important region of the genome of BHV-4.


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