The role of DNA recombination in herpes simplex virus DNA replication

IUBMB Life. 2003 Aug;55(8):451-8. doi: 10.1080/15216540310001612237.


In many organisms the processes of DNA replication and recombination are closely linked. For instance, in bacterial and eukaryotic systems, replication forks can become stalled or damaged, in many cases leading to the formation of double stranded breaks. Replication restart is an essential mechanism in which the recombination and repair machinery can be used to continue replication after such a catastrophic event. DNA viruses of bacteria such as lambda and T4 also rely heavily on DNA recombination to replicate their genomes and both viruses encode specialized gene products which are required for recombination-dependent replication. In this review, we examine the linkage between replication and recombination in the eukaryotic pathogen, Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1). The evidence that recombination plays an intrinsic role in HSV-1 DNA replication and the infection process will be reviewed. We have recently demonstrated that HSV-1 encodes two proteins which may be analogous to the lambda phage recombination system, Red(alpha) and beta. The HSV-1 alkaline nuclease, a 5' to 3' exonuclease, and ICP8, a single stranded DNA binding protein, can carry out strand annealing reactions similar to those carried out by the lambda Red system. In addition, evidence suggesting that host recombination proteins may also be important for HSV-1 replication will be reviewed. In summary, it is likely that HSV-1 infection will require both viral and cellular proteins which participate in various pathways of recombination and that recombination-dependent replication is essential for the efficient replication of viral genomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / virology
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / ultrastructure
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Genome, Viral
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Ribonucleases / metabolism
  • Simplexvirus / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ICP8 protein, Simplexvirus
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA
  • Ribonucleases
  • viral alkaline nuclease