Identification of resistance-associated HCMV UL97- and UL54-mutations and a UL97-polymporphism with impact on phenotypic drug-resistance

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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) drug-resistance remains of high clinical importance. While UL97-mutations can confer ganciclovir-resistance, UL54-mutations can be associated with resistance to ganciclovir, foscarnet and/or cidofovir.


Three UL97-mutations (A619V, P468Q, del597-599), three UL54-mutations (V715A, A492D, L516W) and two UL97/UL54-mutation combinations (A594TUL97+V715MUL54; A591VUL97+D515EUL54, L516MUL54, I521TUL54) were characterised phenotypically. All mutations were introduced into the bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) TB40-BACKL7-UL32EGFP. A revertant of HCMV-TB40-BACKL7-UL32EGFP/A591VUL97+D515EUL54, L516MUL54, I521TUL54 was generated.


The UL97-mutation del597-599 showed GCV-resistance while A619V and P468Q were drug-sensitive. The UL54-mutation V715A was FOS-resistant/CDV-hypersensitive and L516W was GCV/CDV cross-resistant. Mutation A594TUL97+V715MUL54 showed GCV/FOS cross-resistance. HCMV-BACKL7-UL32EGFP/A591VUL97+D515EUL54,L516MUL54, I521TUL54 was GCV/CDV cross-resistant with a remarkably increased GCV-ratio compared to a strain where only the UL54-mutations D515E+L516M+I521T were present. Since the revertant was drug-sensitive again, the increased drug-ratio is supposed to be due to the UL97-polymorphism A591V.


Phenotypic characterisation of newly detected mutations in UL97 and UL54 remain of high importance. Only mutations with a confirmed phenotype allow reliable interpretation of genotypic methods. Here, we provide the first description of a UL97-polymorphism that contributes to the overall drug-resistance when combined with resistance-associated UL54-mutations. The finding shows the high importance to look at mutations in the context of their genetic background.

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