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Novel organizational features, captured cellular genes, and strain variability within the genome of KSHV/HHV8.

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1
Molecular Virology Laboratories, Oncology Center, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Abstract

Strong serologic and molecular probe correlations indicate that the newly discovered gamma herpesvirus KSHV or HHV8 is the likely etiologic agent of all forms of Kaposi's sarcoma as well as BCBL/PEL and MCD in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Two large segments of HHV8 DNA from an AIDS-associated BCBL tumor covering genomic positions 0-52 kilobase [kb] and 108-140 kb have been cloned, mapped, and partially sequenced. Our studies have focused on novel viral proteins encoded within a 13-kb divergent locus (DL-B) by nine captured homologues of cellular genes, including vIL-6, vDHFR, vTS, vBcl-2, three C-C beta chemokines (vMIP-1A, vMIP-1B, and vBCK), and two LAP/PHD subclass zinc finger proteins (IE1A and IE1B). The HHV-8 vIL-6, vDHFR, vTS, and vBcl-2 proteins have all been shown to be active in a variety of appropriate functional assays, and transcripts from vIL-6, vMIP-1B, vIE1-A, vIE1-B, and vDHFR genes are all expressed as abundant single messenger RNA species after butyrate or phorbol ester (TPA) induction of the lytic cycle in HHV8-positive BCBL cell lines. All of these genes lie within a divergent transcriptional domain that contains a single central enhancer and associated untranslated leader region plus seven distinct proximal promoters, some of which are negatively regulated through AP-1 and ZRE motifs by the EBV ZTA transactivator. This region also encompasses a predicted complex oriLyt domain of 1050 bp that is duplicated in inverted orientation adjacent to the T0.7 latency RNA in another large divergent locus (DL-E). We have previously described three distinct subtypes of the HHV8 genome that differ by 1.0%-1.5% at the nucleotide level within the ORF26 and ORF75 genes. Certain strains or clades appear to have preferential geographic distributions, but it is not known as yet whether there are any specific disease associations. Interestingly, the A, B, and C subtypes of HHV-8 also proved to differ dramatically in coding content at both the extreme left and right ends of the unique segment of the genome as well as in the positions of the junctions with the terminal repeats. On the left-hand side, the receptor-like ORF-K1 protein is highly variable with A-strain subtypes displaying 15% amino acid differences from C strains and up to 30% differences from B strains. On the right-hand side, two unrelated alternative types of the putative multiple membrane spanning ORF-K15 protein are found.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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