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Abstract

Human herpesvirus-6A (HHV-6A) is rarer than HHV-6B in many infant populations. However, they are similarly prevalent as germline, chromosomally integrated genomes (ciHHV-6A/B). This integrated form affects 0.1–1 % of the human population, where potentially virus gene expression could be in every cell, although virus relationships and health effects are not clear. In a Czech/German patient cohort ciHHV-6A was more common and diverse than ciHHV-6B. Quantitative PCR, nucleotide sequencing and telomeric integration site amplification characterized ciHHV-6 in 44 German myocarditis/cardiomyopathy and Czech malignancy/inflammatory disease (MI) patients plus donors. Comparisons were made to sequences from global virus reference strains, and blood DNA from childhood-infections from Zambia (HHV-6A mainly) and Japan (HHV-6B). The MI cohort were 86 % (18/21) ciHHV-6A, the cardiac cohort 65 % (13/20) ciHHV-6B, suggesting different disease links. Reactivation was supported by findings of 1) recombination between ciHHV-6A and HHV-6B genes in 20 % (4/21) of the MI cohort; 2) expression in a patient subset, of early/late transcripts from the inflammatory mediator genes chemokine receptor U51 and chemokine U83, both identical to ciHHV-6A DNA sequences; and 3) superinfection shown by deep sequencing identifying minor virus-variants only in ciHHV-6A, which expressed transcripts, indicating virus infection reactivates latent ciHHV-6A. Half the MI cohort had more than two copies per cell, median 5.2, indicative of reactivation. Remarkably, the integrated genomes encoded the secreted-active form of virus chemokines, rare in virus from childhood-infections. This shows integrated virus genomes can contribute new human genes with links to inflammatory pathology and supports ciHHV-6A reactivation as a source for emergent infection.

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2015-02-01
2020-10-19
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