Background: Bovine herpesviruses type 1 (BoHV1) and type 5 (BoHV5) are two closely related pathogens of cattle. The identity of the two viruses on the amino acid level averages 82%. Despite their high antigenetic similarities the two pathogens induce distinctive clinical signs. BoHV1 causes respiratory and genital tract infections while BoHV5 leads to severe encephalitis in calves.
Findings: The viral genomes of BoHV1 and BoHV5 were cloned as infectious bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs). First, recombinant viruses carrying the genetic elements for propagation in bacteria were generated. Second, DNA from these recombinant viruses were transferred into prokaryotic cells. Third, DNA from these bacteria were transferred into eukaryotic cells. Progeny viruses from BAC transfections showed similar kinetics as their corresponding wild types.
Conclusion: The two viral genomes of BoHV1 and BoHV5 cloned as BACs are accessible to the tools of bacterial genetics. The ability to easily manipulate the viral genomes on a molecular level in future experiments will lead to a better understanding of the difference in pathogenesis induced by these two closely related bovine herpesviruses.