The short region in the genome of herpes simplex virus type 1 contains a contiguous array of five genes (US4, US5, US6, US7 and US8) which encode known or proposed virion-surface glycoprotein species. Counterparts for certain of these have been described in the genomes of other alphaherpesviruses, namely herpes simplex virus type 2, pseudorabies virus and varicella-zoster virus. Within each of the US4-, US6- and US7-related sets, the amino acid sequences are most conserved in a region containing several cysteine residues. Comparisons in this region among the three sets were carried out by first aligning three cysteine residues which were very similarly placed in each set, and a number of other similarities were then visible. It was concluded that the US4, US6 and US7 sets of genes are related, and thus have evolved by duplication and divergence. The US8-related sequences are distinct from the US4, US6 and US7 sequences, although possible signs of a distant relationship were detected. The US8 set contains two clusters of cysteine residues, and the sequences around these show some similarity, which was interpreted as evidence for occurrence of an intramolecular duplication event.


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