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Annu Rev Virol. 2014 Nov;1(1):215-35. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-031413-085422. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

Herpesvirus Genome Integration into Telomeric Repeats of Host Cell Chromosomes.

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Institut für Virologie, Freie Universität Berlin, 14163 Berlin, Germany; email: ,


It is well known that numerous viruses integrate their genetic material into host cell chromosomes. Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and oncogenic Marek's disease virus (MDV) have been shown to integrate their genomes into host telomeres of latently infected cells. This is unusual for herpesviruses as most maintain their genomes as circular episomes during the quiescent stage of infection. The genomic DNA of HHV-6, MDV, and several other herpesviruses harbors telomeric repeats (TMRs) that are identical to host telomere sequences (TTAGGG). At least in the case of MDV, viral TMRs facilitate integration into host telomeres. Integration of HHV-6 occurs not only in lymphocytes but also in the germline of some individuals, allowing vertical virus transmission. Although the molecular mechanism of telomere integration is poorly understood, the presence of TMRs in a number of herpesviruses suggests it is their default program for genome maintenance during latency and also allows efficient reactivation.


herpesvirus; integration; latency; reactivation; telomeric repeats

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