Efficient identification of inherited chromosomally integrated human herpesvirus 6 using specimen pooling.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of clinical virology : the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology, Volume 77, p.71-76 (2016)


BACKGROUND: Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) has a unique ability to integrate into chromosomal telomeres. Vertical transmission via germ cell integration results in offspring with inherited chromosomally integrated (ci)HHV-6 in all nucleated cells, affecting ∼1% of the population.

OBJECTIVES: Inherited ciHHV-6 may be a direct or indirect mediator of human disease, but efficient identification of affected individuals is a fundamental roadblock to larger studies exploring the clinical importance of this condition.

STUDY DESIGN: A group testing strategy was designed to efficiently identify individuals with inherited ciHHV-6. DNA was extracted from 2496 cellular samples from hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) donor-recipient pairs. Pools of 12 samples were screened for HHV-6 DNA with quantitative (q)PCR. Individual samples from high positive pools were tested with qPCR, and high positive individual samples were tested for inherited ciHHV-6 using droplet digital (dd)PCR to determine HHV-6 DNA copies/cellular genome.

RESULTS: Thirty-one pools had high positive HHV-6 DNA detection with >10(3) HHV-6 DNA copies/μg. Each pool had one sample with >10(4) copies/μg HHV-6 DNA. Inherited ciHHV-6 was confirmed by ddPCR in every high positive sample (>10(3) HHV-6 DNA copies/μg), yielding a prevalence of 1.5% in HCT recipients and 0.96% in donors. We performed 580 qPCR tests to screen 2496 samples for inherited ciHHV-6, a 77% reduction in testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Inherited ciHHV-6 can be efficiently identified by specimen pooling coupled with modern molecular techniques. This algorithm can be used to facilitate cost-effective identification of patients with inherited ciHHV-6, thereby removing a major hurdle for large-scale study of its clinical impact.