Genotypic characterization of UL23 thymidine kinase and UL30 DNA polymerase of clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus: natural polymorphism and mutations associated with resistance to antivirals

Sonia Burrel, Claire Deback, Henri Agut, David Boutolleau
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2010, 54 (11): 4833-42
The molecular mechanisms of herpes simplex virus (HSV) resistance to antiviral drugs interfering with viral DNA synthesis reported so far rely on the presence of mutations within UL23 (thymidine kinase [TK]) and UL30 (DNA polymerase) genes. The interpretation of genotypic antiviral resistance assay results requires the clear distinction between resistance mutations and natural interstrain sequence variations. The objectives of this work were to describe extensively the natural polymorphism of UL23 TK and UL30 DNA polymerase among HSV-1 and HSV-2 strains and the amino acid changes potentially associated with HSV resistance to antivirals. The sequence analysis of the full-length UL23 and UL30 genes was performed. Ninety-four drug-sensitive clinical isolates (43 HSV-1 and 51 HSV-2) and 3 laboratory strains (KOS, gHSV-2, and MS2) were studied for natural polymorphism, and 25 clinical isolates exhibiting phenotypic traits of resistance to antivirals were analyzed for drug resistance mutations. Our results showed that TK and DNA polymerase are highly conserved among HSV strains, with a weaker variability for HSV-2 strains. This study provided a precise map of the natural polymorphism of both viral enzymes among HSV-1 and HSV-2 isolates, with the identification of 15 and 51 polymorphisms never previously described for TK and DNA polymerase, respectively, which will facilitate the interpretation of genotypic antiviral-resistant testing. Moreover, the genotypic characterization of 25 drug-resistant HSV isolates revealed 8 new amino acid changes located in TK and potentially accounting for acyclovir (ACV) resistance.

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