Development of a highly sensitive quantitative competitive PCR assay for the detection of murine cytomegalovirus DNA

A. Palmon*, S. Tel-or, E. Shai, B. Rager-Zisman, Y. Burstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Viral persistence and molecular latency are characteristic of infection by the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Using the murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) as a model for human infection, a quantitative-competitive polymerase chain reaction (QC-PCR) assay was developed to detect and quantify MCMV-DNA in the salivary glands of infected mice. The QC-PCR detected high numbers of MCMV DNA copies in the absence of infectious virus. By comparing the DNA content and the results obtained from a standard semiquantitative plaque assay, it is concluded that 1 plaque-forming unit (pfu) is the equivalent of approximately 1500 viral genomes. By day 42-post infection (pi) 4 x 103 copies of DNA/1 mg tissue were sufficient to reactivate infectious virions after cyclophosphamide immunosupression. By day 90 pi, however, when the DNA load was decreased to < 1.2 x 102, reactivation was not observed. These results indicate that viral reactivation will occur when the number of infectious DNA copies is equivalent about 2-3 pfu. This quantitative test may therefore help to detect CMV and the risk of reactivation in immunosupressed patients. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Virginia Buchner for her helpful suggestions during manuscript preparation. YB is the Maynard I. and Elaine Wishner Professor of Bioorganic Chemistry and Malignant Diseases Research. This research was supported in part by the Israel Science Foundation, founded by the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities and by the Israel Cancer Association.


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Latency
  • QC-PCR
  • Salivary Glands


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