[en] Herpesvirus genomes are often characterized by the presence of direct and inverted repeats that delineate their grouping into six structural classes. Class D genomes consist of a long (L) segment and a short (S) segment. The latter is flanked by large inverted repeats. DNA replication produces concatemers of head-to-tail linked genomes that are cleaved into unit genomes during the process of packaging DNA into capsids. Packaged class D genomes are an equimolar mixture of two isomers in which S is in either of two orientations, presumably a consequence of homologous recombination between the inverted repeats. The L segment remains predominantly fixed in a prototype (P) orientation; however, low levels of genomes having inverted L (I-L) segments have been reported for some class D herpesviruses. Inefficient formation of class D I-L genomes has been attributed to infrequent L segment inversion, but recent detection of frequent inverted L segments in equine herpesvirus 1 concatemers [Virology 229 (1997) 415-420] suggests that the defect may be at the level of cleavage and packaging rather than inversion. In this study, the structures of virion and concatemeric DNA of another class D herpesvirus, bovine herpesvirus 1, were determined. Virion DNA contained low levels of I-L genomes, whereas concatemeric DNA contained significant amounts of L segments in both P and I-L orientations. However, concatemeric termini exhibited a preponderance of L termini derived from P isomers which was comparable to the preponderance of P genomes found in virion DNA. Thus, the defect in formation of I-L genomes appears to lie at the level of concatemer cleavage. These results have important implications for the mechanisms by which herpesvirus DNA cleavage and packaging occur. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.