Cloning human herpes virus 6A genome into bacterial artificial chromosomes and study of DNA replication intermediates

Ronen Borenstein, Niza Frenkel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cloning of large viral genomes into bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) facilitates analyses of viral functions and molecular mutagenesis. Previous derivations of viral BACs involved laborious recombinations within infected cells. We describe a single-step production of viral BACs by direct cloning of unit length genomes, derived from circular or head-to-tail concatemeric DNA replication intermediates. The BAC cloning is independent of intracellular recombinations and DNA packaging constraints. We introduced the 160-kb human herpes virus 6A (HHV-6A) genome into BACs by digesting the viral DNA replicative intermediates with the Sfil enzyme that cleaves the viral genome in a single site. The recombinant BACs contained also the puromycin selection gene, GFP, and LoxP sites flanking the BAC sequences. The HHV-6A-BAC vectors were retained stably in puromycin selected 293T cells. In the presence of irradiated helper virus, supplying most likely proteins enhancing gene expression they expressed early and late genes in SupT1 T cells. The method is especially attractive for viruses that replicate inefficiently and for viruses propagated in suspension cells.Wehave used the fact that the BAC cloning "freezes" the viral DNA replication intermediates to analyze their structure. The results revealed that HHV-6A-BACs contained a single direct repeat (DR) rather than a DR-DR sequence, predicted to arise by circularization of parental genomes with a DR at each terminus. HHV-6A DNA molecules prepared from the infected cells also contained DNA molecules with a single DR. Such forms were not previously described for HHV-6 DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19138-19143
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2009


  • BAC
  • Direct cloning
  • HHV-6A


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