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J Virol. 1990 Sep;64(9):4084-92.

Epstein-Barr virus types 1 and 2 differ in their EBNA-3A, EBNA-3B, and EBNA-3C genes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The two Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) types, EBV-1 and EBV-2, are known to differ in their EBNA-2 genes, which are 64 and 53% identical in their nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequences, respectively. Restriction endonuclease maps and serologic analyses detect few other differences between EBV-1 and EBV-2 except in the EBNA-3 gene family. We determined the DNA sequence of the AG876 EBV-2 EBNA-3 coding region and have compared it with known B95-8 EBV-1 EBNA-3 sequences to delineate the extent of divergence between EBV-1 and EBV-2 isolates in their EBNA-3 genes. The B95-8 and AG876 EBV isolates had nucleotide and amino acid identity levels of 90 and 84%, 88 and 80%, and 81 and 72% for the EBNA-3A, -3B, and -3C genes, respectively. In contrast, nucleotide sequence identity in the noncoding DNA adjacent to the B95-8 and AG876 EBNA-3 open reading frames was 96%. We used the polymerase chain reaction to demonstrate that five additional EBV-1 isolates and six additional EBV-2 isolates have the type-specific differences in their EBNA-3 genes predicted from the B95-8 or AG876 sequences. Thus, EBV-1 and EBV-2 are two distinct wild-type EBV strains that have significantly diverged at four genetic loci and have maintained type-characteristic differences at each locus. The delineation of these sequence differences between EBV-1 and EBV-2 is essential to ongoing molecular dissection of the biologic properties of EBV and of the human immune response to EBV infection. The application of these data to the delineation of epitopes recognized in the EBV-immune T-cell response is also discussed.

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