Complete Unique Genome Sequence, Expression Profile, and Salivary Gland Tissue Tropism of the Herpesvirus 7 Homolog in Pigtailed Macaques.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of virology, Volume 90, Issue 15, p.6657-74 (2016)


Bioinformatics Core Facility, Genomics Core Facility


UNLABELLED: Human herpesvirus 6A (HHV-6A), HHV-6B, and HHV-7 are classified as roseoloviruses and are highly prevalent in the human population. Roseolovirus reactivation in an immunocompromised host can cause severe pathologies. While the pathogenic potential of HHV-7 is unclear, it can reactivate HHV-6 from latency and thus contributes to severe pathological conditions associated with HHV-6. Because of the ubiquitous nature of roseoloviruses, their roles in such interactions and the resulting pathological consequences have been difficult to study. Furthermore, the lack of a relevant animal model for HHV-7 infection has hindered a better understanding of its contribution to roseolovirus-associated diseases. Using next-generation sequencing analysis, we characterized the unique genome of an uncultured novel pigtailed macaque roseolovirus. Detailed genomic analysis revealed the presence of gene homologs to all 84 known HHV-7 open reading frames. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed that the virus is a macaque homolog of HHV-7, which we have provisionally named Macaca nemestrina herpesvirus 7 (MneHV7). Using high-throughput RNA sequencing, we observed that the salivary gland tissue samples from nine different macaques had distinct MneHV7 gene expression patterns and that the overall number of viral transcripts correlated with viral loads in parotid gland tissue and saliva. Immunohistochemistry staining confirmed that, like HHV-7, MneHV7 exhibits a natural tropism for salivary gland ductal cells. We also observed staining for MneHV7 in peripheral nerve ganglia present in salivary gland tissues, suggesting that HHV-7 may also have a tropism for the peripheral nervous system. Our data demonstrate that MneHV7-infected macaques represent a relevant animal model that may help clarify the causality between roseolovirus reactivation and diseases. IMPORTANCE: Human herpesvirus 6A (HHV-6A), HHV-6B, and HHV-7 are classified as roseoloviruses. We have recently discovered that pigtailed macaques are naturally infected with viral homologs of HHV-6 and HHV-7, which we provisionally named MneHV6 and MneHV7, respectively. In this study, we confirm that MneHV7 is genetically and biologically similar to its human counterpart, HHV-7. We determined the complete unique MneHV7 genome sequence and provide a comprehensive annotation of all genes. We also characterized viral transcription profiles in salivary glands from naturally infected macaques. We show that broad transcriptional activity across most of the viral genome is associated with high viral loads in infected parotid glands and that late viral protein expression is detected in salivary duct cells and peripheral nerve ganglia. Our study provides new insights into the natural behavior of an extremely prevalent virus and establishes a basis for subsequent investigations of the mechanisms that cause HHV-7 reactivation and associated disease.