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Acta Virol. 1998 Dec;42(6):401-7.

Analysis of nucleotide sequence variations in herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, and varicella-zoster virus.

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Department of Microbiology, Asahikawa Medical College, Japan.


To analyze the difference in the degree of divergence between genes from identical herpesvirus species, we examined the nucleotide sequence of genes from the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) strains VR-3 and 17 encoding thymidine kinase (TK), deoxyribonuclease (DNase), protein kinase (PK; UL13) and virion-associated host shutoff (vhs) protein (UL41). The frequency of nucleotide substitutions per 1 kb in TK gene was 2.5 to 4.3 times higher than those in the other three genes. To prove that the polymorphism of HSV-1 TK gene is common characteristic of herpesvirus TK genes, we compared the diversity of TK genes among eight HSV-1, six herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and seven varicella-zoster virus (VZV) strains. The average frequency of nucleotide substitutions per 1 kb in the TK gene of HSV-1 strains was 4-fold higher than that in the TK gene of HSV-2 strains. The VZV TK gene was highly conserved and only two nucleotide changes were evident in VZV strains. However, the rate of nonsynonymous substitutions in total nucleotide substitutions was similar among the TK genes of the three viruses. This result indicated that the mutational rates differed, but there were no significant differences in selective pressure. We conclude that HSV-1 TK gene is highly diverged and analysis of variations in the gene is a useful approach for understanding the molecular evolution of HSV-1 in a short period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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