Journal Article

The Molecular Epidemiology and Evolution of Epstein-Barr Virus: Sequence Variation and Genetic Recombination in the Latent Membrane Protein-1 Gene

Dennis M. Walling, Nadia Shebib, Scott C. Weaver, C. Mark Nichols, Catherine M. Flaitz and Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque

in The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 179, issue 4, pages 763-774
Published in print April 1999 | ISSN: 0022-1899
Published online April 1999 | e-ISSN: 1537-6613 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/314672
The Molecular Epidemiology and Evolution of Epstein-Barr Virus: Sequence Variation and Genetic Recombination in the Latent Membrane Protein-1 Gene

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The phylogeny and evolution of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genetic variation are poorly understood. EBV latent membrane protein-1 (LMP-1) gene sequences are especially heterogeneous and may be useful as a tool for EBV genotype identification. Therefore, LMP-1 sequences obtained directly from EBV-infected human tissues were examined by PCR amplification and cloning. EBV genotypes were defined as “strains” from among 22 identified LMP-1 sequence patterns. Three molecular mechanisms were identified by which genetic diversity arises in the LMP-1 gene: point mutation, sequence deletion or duplication, and homologous recombination. The rate of LMP-1 gene evolution was found to be accelerated by coinfection with multiple EBV strains. The results of this study refine our understanding of LMP-1 sequence variation and enable accurate discrimination between independent EBV infection events and the consequence of intrahost EBV evolution. Thus, this LMP-1 sequence-based approach to EBV molecular epidemiology will facilitate the study of intrahost EBV infection, coinfection, and persistence.

Journal Article.  7677 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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