More than 50 fragments resulting from complete digestion of the DNA of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6, strain U1102) with HI, RI, dIII, I, I, I or I have been isolated as clones in M13, plasmid, cosmid and lambda vectors. Using these clones, maps have been constructed for the fragments produced by nine restriction enzymes from unit-length virus genomes and from their concatemeric precursors. The unit-length genome is a linear, double-stranded molecule of 161.5 kbp composed of a central segment of a largely unique sequence of 141 kbp (U) with a sequence of 10 kbp duplicated in the same orientation at both ‘left’ and ‘right’ genomic termini (i.e. ‘left’ and ‘right’ copies of the direct repeat; DR and DR). Adopting as standard an orientation in which the major capsid protein gene is ‘left’ of the gene for alkaline exonuclease, then the ‘right’ genome termini and DR. U junctions occur close to or within repetitive (GGGTTA) sequences. Repetitions of short sequence motifs are present in at least two other regions of the genome. One of these regions consists of a simple repeat (T C/G) of approximately 1.5 kbp in length and is unstable as clones in bacterial vectors. The second region is stably maintained in such vectors and consists of a tandem array of at least 25 copies of a 110 bp sequence containing a single I site. Comparisons of fragments arising from unit-length DNA with those from virus DNA from the nuclei of infected cells have shown that the concatemeric junctions in intracellular DNA contain head-to-tail dimers of the terminal duplications (i.e. … U.DR.DR.U …). The gross structure established here for the genome from the U1102 isolate of HHV-6 resembles closely that suggested by Pellett and his colleagues for the Z29 isolate and differs from that of the five previously characterized human herpesviruses. This structure of HHV-6 DNA bears a superficial resemblance to that proposed for DNA from channel catfish virus and equine cytomegalovirus.


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