Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are important human pathogens which belong to different subfamilies of the herpesviruses: the - and , respectively. Computer comparisons of the amino acid sequences of proteins predicted from the published complete VZV and EBV DNA sequences resulted in the detection of EBV counterparts to 29 of the 67 unique VZV genes. Conserved genes were detected only in the U component of each genome, and are located in three major regions, within which conserved genes are generally colinear. However, the three regions are arranged differently in the two genomes. These results make it possible in principle to propose the functions of EBV genes on the basis of the functions of their VZV counterparts. The data also allow identification of the types of events which may have occurred during divergence of VZV and EBV, as representatives of the - and , from a common ancestor.

Keyword(s): conserved genes , EBV and VZV

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