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J Med Virol. 2008 Nov;80(11):1952-8. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21299.

Human herpesvirus 6 integrates within telomeric regions as evidenced by five different chromosomal sites.

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Department of Haematology, Royal Free & University College Medical School (Hampstead Campus), London, United Kingdom.


Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to investigate the chromosomal integration sites of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated leukocytes and B lymphocytes from Epstein-Barr virus transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). Five different chromosomal integration sites were found in nine individuals. Only one site was identified in each individual, each site was in the vicinity of the telomeric region and was on either the p or q arm of only one of the two chromosome homologues. The sites were 9q34.3, 10q26.3, 11p15.5, 17p13.3, and 19q 13.4, of which three have not been previously identified. For 9q34.3 the site of integration was further mapped using a locus-specific probe for 9q34.3 together with a pan-telomeric probe and both co-localized with the HHV-6 signal. Similarly an arm-specific telomeric probe for 19q co-localized with the HHV-6 signal. It was therefore concluded that the site of integration is actually within the telomere. The number of viral DNA copies/cell was calculated in blood, LCL cells and hair follicles and was one or more in every case for each of the nine individuals. This result was confirmed by FISH where 100% of cells gave an HHV-6 signal. These findings add to previous reports suggesting that integrated HHV-6 DNA is found in every cell in the body and transmitted vertically. Finally, including our data, worldwide seven different chromosomal sites of HHV-6 integration have now been identified. Large epidemiological studies of chromosomal integration are required to identify further telomeric sites, geographical or racial variation and possible clinical consequences.

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