Genome-wide Engineering of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Using Synthetic Genomics Assembly Methods

Herpesviruses are amongst the largest, most complex, and most variable of all DNA viruses. There are some common laboratory strains, which have provided valuable information on the biology of the viruses. However, there are behavioral differences between laboratory strains and clinical isolates and even within the different clinical isolates themselves. It has been difficult to understand how these differences are manifested in virulence and pathogenicity. We used synthetic biology methods to first build an infectious clone of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) genome using yeast homologous recombination. We demonstrate the utility and versatility of this genome engineering method by creating genome-wide changes in virion genes, including fluorescent-protein fusions and gene deletions. The successful outcome of this synthetic biology approach would have a significant impact on the ability to synthetically clone and manipulate any herpesvirus genome or large virus. This, in turn, will enable the larger research community to better understand the biology of viruses. In addition, this approach offers a paradigm to help understand the biology of emerging viruses.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017-10-17; 114.42: E8885-E8894.
Genome-wide engineering of an infectious clone of herpes simplex virus type 1 using synthetic genomics assembly methods
Oldfield LM, Grzesik P, Voorhies AA, Alperovich N, MacMath D, Najera CD, Chandra DS, Prasad S, Noskov VN, Montague MG, Friedman RM, Desai PJ, Vashee S
PMID: 28928148


Funding for this project provided by National Institutes of Health R21AI109418.

Principal Investigator


Prashant Desai
Johns Hopkins University-SOM

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