The pattern of ocular disease produced in the rabbit eye by HSV-1 (F) and HSV-1(MP) strains and recombinants F(MP)A, F(MP)B, F(MP)C, F(MP)D, F(MP)E, and F(MP)F was studied. The characteristics of ocular herpetic disease such as morphology of dendritic ulcers, severity of epithelial disease and incidence and duration of stromal disease produced in the rabbit eye are genetically determined by the virus strain. Our studies show that transfer of a defined part of the genome of the stromal disease-producing virus, HSV-1(MP), to the genome of an epithelial disease-producing virus, HSV-1(F), yielded recombinants with one or more of the disease characteristics of the donor strain. Specifically, recombinant F(MP)D produced lesions characteristic of the donor HSV-1(MP) strain; recombinants F(MP)C and F(MP)E produced stromal disease approaching the severity of the disease produced by the donor HSV-1(MP) strain, and only recombinants F(MP)A and F(MP)B retained the typically elongate lesions of the recipient HSV-1(F), whereas the recombinant strain F(MP)F produced no disease. The viral functions pertaining to the ocular disease pattern map between 0.70 and 0.83 map units in HSV-1 DNA within the BglII F DNA fragment. The pattern of stromal disease is independent of the production of glycoprotein C and fusion of HEp-2-infected cells. The functions relating to these aspects of ocular disease segregate but are closely linked.

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