A transposon derived from Escherichia coli Tn3 was introduced into the genome of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) to generate a pool of viral mutants. We analyzed three of the constructed recombinant viruses that contained the transposon within the M25, M27, and m155 open reading frames. Our studies provide the first direct evidence to suggest that M25 and M27 are not essential for viral replication in mouse NIH 3T3 cells. Studies in cultured cells and Balb/c mice indicated that the transposon insertion is stable during viral propagation both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover the virus that contained the insertion mutation in M25 exhibited a titer similar to that of the wild-type virus in the salivary glands, lungs, livers, spleens, and kidneys of the Balb/c mice that were intraperitoneally infected with these viruses. These results suggest that M25 is dispensable for viral growth in these organs and the presence of the transposon sequence in the viral genome does not significantly affect viral replication in vivo. The Tn3-based system can be used as a mutagenesis approach for studying the function of MCMV genes in both tissue culture and in animals.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.