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Primary structure of the alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 genome.

Ensser A., Pflanz R., Fleckenstein B.

Alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 (AHV-1) causes wildebeest-associated malignant catarrhal fever, a lymphoproliferative syndrome in ungulate species other than the natural host. Based on biological properties and limited structural data, it has been classified as a member of the genus Rhadinovirus of the subfamily Gammaherpes-virinae. Here, we report on cloning and structural analysis of the complete genome of AHV-1 C500. The low GC content DNA (L-DNA) region of the genome consists of 130,608 bp with low (46.17%) GC content and marked suppression of CpG dinucleotide frequency. Like in herpesvirus saimiri, the prototype of the rhadinoviruses, the L-DNA is flanked by approximately 20 to 25 GC-rich (71.83%) high GC content DNA (H-DNA) repeats of 1,113 to 1,118 nucleotides. The analysis of the L-DNA sequence revealed 70 open reading frames (ORFs), 61 of which showed homology to other herpesviruses. The conserved ORFs are arranged in four blocks collinear to other Rhadinovirus genomes. These gene blocks are flanked by nonconserved regions containing ORFs without similarities to known herpesvirus genes. Notably, a spliced reading frame with a coding capacity for a 199-amino-acid protein is located in a position homologous to the transforming genes of herpesvirus saimiri at the left end of the L-DNA. A gene with homology to the semaphorin family is located adjacent to this. Despite common biological and epidemiological properties, AHV-1 differs significantly from herpesvirus saimiri with regard to cell homologous genes, probably using a different set of effector proteins to achieve a similar T-lymphocyte-transforming phenotype.

J. Virol. 71:6517-6525(1997) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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