Virus and host genomic, molecular, and cellular interactions during Marek's disease pathogenesis and oncogenesis

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Marek's Disease Virus (MDV) is a chicken alphaherpesvirus that causes paralysis, chronic wasting, blindness, and fatal lymphoma development in infected, susceptible host birds. This disease and its protective vaccines are highly relevant research targets, given their enormous impact within the poultry industry. Further, Marek's disease (MD) serves as a valuable model for the investigation of oncogenic viruses and herpesvirus patterns of viral latency and persistence—as pertinent to human health as to poultry health. The objectives of this article are to review MDV interactions with its host from a variety of genomic, molecular, and cellular perspectives. In particular, we focus on cytogenetic studies, which precisely assess the physical status of the MDV genome in the context of the chicken host genome. Combined, the cytogenetic and genomic research indicates that MDV-host genome interactions, specifically integration of the virus into the host telomeres, is a key feature of the virus life cycle, contributing to the viral achievement of latency, transformation, and reactivation of lytic replication. We present a model that outlines the variety of virus-host interactions, at the multiple levels, and with regard to the disease states.

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