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Drug-resistant strains of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) were selected under the pressure of (S)-3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl (HPMP) derivatives of cytosine (HPMPC, cidofovir) and adenine (HPMPA) and 2-phosphonylmethoxyethyl (PME) derivatives of adenine (PMEA, adefovir) and 2,6-diaminopurine (PMEDAP). HPMPC-resistant (HPMPC(r)) and HPMPA(r) strains were cross-resistant to one another, but they remained sensitive to foscarnet (PFA), acyclovir (ACV) and the PME derivatives, while the PMEA(r) and PMEDAP(r) strains showed cross-resistance to PFA and ACV. The PMEA(r), PMEDAP(r) and PFA(r) mutants all revealed a single nucleotide change resulting in a Ser-724 to Asn mutation within the conserved region II of the DNA polymerase. Two HPMPA(r) clones and one HPMPC(r) clone possessed single amino acid changes in the DNA polymerase (HPMPA(r) clone D1, Leu-1007 to Met; HPMPA(r) clone B5, Ile-1028 to Thr; HPMPC(r) clone C3, Val-573 to Met). The HPMPC(r) clone A4 contained two mutations, Ala-136 to Thr and Arg-700 to Met. The mutation at position 136, located outside the catalytic domain of the enzyme, was not detected in other HPMPC(r) clones, suggesting that this mutation may not be responsible for the resistant phenotype. Residue 573 is located within the 3'-->5' exonuclease editing domain close to the catalytically important residues Tyr-577 and Asp-581. Similarly, residue 700 is located in the palm subdomain of the catalytic domain, adjacent to the Asp residues 717, 886 and 888 that are vital for polymerase activity. The HPMPA(r) mutations at residues 1007 and 1028, beyond the last conserved region, still fall within the thumb subdomain of the catalytic domain. The different drug-resistant mutants varied in neurovirulent behaviour, the HPMPC(r) strains showing reduced neurovirulence compared with the wild-type.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of general virology

Publication Date





639 - 648


Laboratory of Antiviral Chemotherapy, Rega Institute for Medical Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Minderbroedersstraat 10, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Cell Line, Vero Cells, Animals, Cercopithecus aethiops, Humans, Mice, Herpesvirus 1, Human, Pyrimidines, Purines, DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase, Drug Resistance, Microbial, Virulence, Genotype, Phenotype, Mutation, Genes, Viral