Genomic and proteomic analysis of Human herpesvirus 6 reveals distinct clustering of acute versus inherited forms and reannotation of reference strain

Alexander L. Greninger, Giselle M. Knudsen, Pavitra Roychoudhury, Derek J. Hanson, Ruth Hall Sedlak, Hong Xie, Jon Guan, Thuy Nguyen, Vikas Peddu, Michael Boeckh, Meei Li Huang, Linda Cook, Daniel P. Depledge, Danielle M. Zerr, David M. Koelle, Soren Gantt, Tetsushi Yoshikawa, Mary Caserta, Joshua A. Hill, Keith R. Jerome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human herpesvirus-6A and -6B (HHV-6) are betaherpesviruses that reach >90% seroprevalence in the adult population. Unique among human herpesviruses, HHV-6 can integrate into the subtelomeric regions of human chromosomes; when this occurs in germ line cells it causes a condition called inherited chromosomally integrated HHV-6 (iciHHV-6). To date, only two complete genomes are available for HHV-6B. Using a custom capture panel for HHV-6B, we report near-complete genomes from 61 isolates of HHV-6B from active infections (20 from Japan, 35 from New York state, and 6 from Uganda), and 64 strains of iciHHV-6B (mostly from North America). We also report partial genome sequences from 10 strains of iciHHV-6A. Although the overall sequence diversity of HHV-6 is limited relative to other human herpesviruses, our sequencing identified geographical clustering of HHV-6B sequences from active infections, as well as evidence of recombination among HHV-6B strains. One strain of active HHV-6B was more divergent than any other HHV-6B previously sequenced. In contrast to the active infections, sequences from iciHHV-6 cases showed reduced sequence diversity. Strikingly, multiple iciHHV-6B sequences from unrelated individuals were found to be completely identical, consistent with a founder effect. However, several iciHHV-6B strains intermingled with strains from active pediatric infection, consistent with the hypothesis that intermittent de novo integration into host germline cells can occur during active infection Comparative genomic analysis of the newly sequenced strains revealed numerous instances where conflicting annotations between the two existing reference genomes could be resolved. Combining these findings with transcriptome sequencing and shotgun proteomics, we reannotated the HHV-6B genome and found multiple instances of novel splicing and genes that hitherto had gone unannotated. The results presented here constitute a significant genomic resource for future studies on the detection, diversity, and control of HHV-6. Author Summary HHV-6 is a ubiquitous large DNA virus that is the most common cause of febrile seizures and reactivates in allogeneic stem cell patients. It also has the unique ability among human herpesviruses to be integrated into the genome of every cell via integration in the germ line, a condition called inherited chromosomally integrated (ici)HHV-6, which affects approximately 1% of the population. To date, very little is known about the comparative genomics of HHV-6. We sequenced 61 isolates of HHV-6B from active infections, 64 strains of iciHHV-6B, and 10 strains of iciHHV-6A. We found geographic clustering of HHV-6B strains from active infections. In contrast, iciHHV-6B had reduced sequence diversity, with many identical sequences of iciHHV-6 found in individuals not known to share recent common ancestry, consistent with a founder effect from a remote common ancestor with iciHHV-6. We also combined our genomic analysis with transcriptome sequencing and shotgun proteomics to correct previous misannotations of the HHV-6 genome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUnknown Journal
Publication statusPublished - 27-08-2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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