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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a β-herpes virus that is a significant pathogen within immune compromised populations. HCMV morbidity is induced through viral dissemination and inflammation. Typically, viral dissemination is thought to follow Fenner’s hypothesis where virus replicates at the site of infection, followed by replication in the draining lymph nodes, and eventually replicating within blood filtering organs. Although CMVs somewhat follow Fenner’s hypothesis, they deviate from it by spreading primarily through innate immune cells as opposed to cell-free virus. Also, in vivo CMVs infect new cells via cell-to-cell spread and disseminate directly to secondary organs through novel mechanisms. We review the historic and recent literature pointing to CMV’s direct dissemination to secondary organs and the genes that it has evolved for increasing its ability to disseminate. We also highlight aspects of CMV infection for studying viral dissemination when using in vivo animal models.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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