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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Jul 1;88(13):5922-6.

Differentiation between two distinct classes of viruses now classified as human herpesvirus 6.

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Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) causes exanthem subitum (ES, roseola infantum), a childhood disease characterized by high fever and skin rash. We have analyzed restriction enzyme cleavage patterns of the DNAs of ES virus isolates from Japan and the United States. The patterns of all the ES viral DNAs were highly conserved, except for variable sequences within the terminal repeat sequences. They resembled closely the restriction enzyme patterns of the Z29 strain of HHV-6 but were distinct from those of the U1102 strain. That all ES isolates were closely related whereas the U1102 patterns were very different suggests that the U1102 strain represents a distinct virus. Moreover, the ES isolates all resembled the Z29 strain and not the U1102 strain with respect to reactivity with HHV-6 monoclonal antibodies. These findings provide evidence for the existence of two distinct classes of viruses previously classified as HHV-6. Whereas the Z29-like viruses are involved in ES infections, the association of the U1102-like viruses with human disease has yet to be determined.

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