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J Gen Virol. 2001 Mar;82(Pt 3):499-506.

Molecular characterization of strains of Human herpesvirus 8 from Japan, Argentina and Kuwait.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mail Stop G18, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Current genotyping systems for Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) are based on the highly variable gene encoding the K1 glycoprotein. Most strains collected worldwide cluster into two subtypes (I/A and II/C). Sequenced African strains have belonged to subtypes I/A and IV/B. Members of all three of these subtypes can have either the M or P allele at the right-hand side (RHS) of the genome. Strains obtained predominantly from aboriginal or relatively isolated populations have formed clades that branch at a distance from subtypes I/A and II/C, all being of the RHS P allele. The characterization is reported here of 16 Japanese, two Kuwaiti and five Argentine HHV-8 strains obtained from human immunodeficiency virus-infected and non-infected patients with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma, multicentric Castleman's disease or renal transplants. K1 sequences of five Japanese, one Kuwaiti and two Argentine strains were identified as subtype I/A and eight Japanese, one Kuwaiti and three Argentine strains were subtype II/C. Three strains from elderly classic KS patients originally from Hokkaido, a northern Japanese island, were relatively closely related to strains of subtypes III/D and E. Consistent with previous observations, both the M and P alleles were identified at the RHS of subgroup I/A and II/C genomes; only the P allele was detected among the three Hokkaido strains. Distances among the Hokkaido strains were similar to the distance between subtypes I/A and II/C, suggesting that the Hokkaido strains may represent two distinct subtypes and that, as more strains are analysed, the currently recognized III/D subgroups will probably emerge as independent subtypes.

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