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Abstract

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a ubiquitous pathogen infecting most individuals worldwide. The majority of HSV-1-infected individuals have no clinical symptoms but shed HSV-1 asymptomatically in saliva. Recent phylogenetic analyses of HSV-1 have defined three genetic clades (A–C) and recombinants thereof. These data have all been based on clinical HSV-1 isolates and do not cover genetic variation of asymptomatically shed HSV-1. The primary goal of this study was to investigate such variation. A total of 648 consecutive saliva samples from five HSV-1-infected volunteers was collected. Asymptomatic shedding was detected on 7.6 % of the days from four subjects. The HSV-1 genome loads were quantified with real-time PCR and varied from 1×10 to 2.8×10 copies of virus DNA (ml saliva). Phylogenetic network analyses and bootscanning were performed on asymptomatically shed HSV-1. The analyses were based on DNA sequencing of the glycoprotein I gene, and also of the glycoprotein E gene for putative recombinants. For two individuals with clinical HSV-1 infection, the same HSV-1 strain was shed asymptomatically as induced clinical lesions, and sequence analyses revealed that these strains clustered distinctly to clades A and B, respectively. For one of the subjects with no clinical HSV-1 infection, a recombinant strain was identified. The other truly asymptomatic individual shed evolutionarily distinct HSV-1 strains on two occasions. The first strain was classified as a recombinant and the other strain clustered in clade A. High replication rates of different strains in the same person may facilitate the creation of recombinant clinical HSV-1 strains.

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2009-03-01
2020-10-30
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