We have partially purified suid pseudorabies virus (PRV) thymidine kinase from infected thymidine kinase- mouse cells, and cytosolic swine thymidine kinase from lymphatic glands, and we have found that PRV thymidine kinase, unlike the host enzyme, shows no stereospecificity for D- and L-beta-nucleosides. In vitro, unnatural L-enantiomers, except L-deoxycytidine, function as specific inhibitors for the viral enzyme in the order: L-thymidine >> L-deoxyguanosine > L-deoxyuridine > L-deoxyadenosine. Contrary to human and swine thymidine kinases and like herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 thymidine kinases, PRV thymidine kinase phosphorylates both the natural (D-) and the unnatural (L-) thymidine enantiomers to their corresponding monophosphates with comparable efficiency. The kinetic parameters Vmax/Km for D- and L-thymidine are 3.7 and 2.3 respectively. Our results demonstrate that the lack of stereospecificity might be a common feature of the thymidine kinases that are encoded by human and animal herpes viruses. These observations could lead to the development of a novel class of antiviral drugs.

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