Complete genome sequences of elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses 1A and 1B determined directly from fatal cases

Gavin S Wilkie, Andrew J Davison, Mick Watson, Karen Kerr, Stephanie Sanderson, Tim Bouts, Falko Steinbach, Akbar Dastjerdi

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A highly lethal hemorrhagic disease associated with infection by elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) poses a severe threat to Asian elephant husbandry. We have used high-throughput methods to sequence the genomes of the two genotypes that are involved in most fatalities, namely EEHV1A and EEHV1B (species Elephantid herpesvirus 1, genus Proboscivirus, subfamily Betaherpesvirinae, family Herpesviridae). The sequences were determined from postmortem tissue samples, despite the data containing tiny proportions of viral reads among reads from a host for which the genome sequence was not available. The EEHV1A genome is 180,421 bp in size and consists of a unique sequence (174,601 bp) flanked by a terminal direct repeat (2,910 bp). The genome contains 116 predicted protein-coding genes, of which six are fragmented, and seven paralogous gene families are present. The EEHV1B genome is very similar to that of EEHV1A in structure, size, and gene layout. Half of the EEHV1A genes lack orthologs in other members of subfamily Betaherpesvirinae, such as human cytomegalovirus (genus Cytomegalovirus) and human herpesvirus 6A (genus Roseolovirus). Notable among these are 23 genes encoding type 3 membrane proteins containing seven transmembrane domains (the 7TM family) and seven genes encoding related type 2 membrane proteins (the EE50 family). The EE50 family appears to be under intense evolutionary selection, as it is highly diverged between the two genotypes, exhibits evidence of sequence duplications or deletions, and contains several fragmented genes. The availability of the genome sequences will facilitate future research on the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of EEHV-associated disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6700-6712
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
Early online date3 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2013


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