Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is prevalent in the human population, with primary infection occurring early in life. Its predominant CD4+ T-lymphocyte tropism, its ability to activate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gene expression in vitro, and its upregulation of CD4 expression has led to speculation that HHV-6 may act as a positive cofactor in the progression of HIV infection to AIDS in individuals infected with both viruses. Previous sequencing studies of restricted regions of the 161.5-kbp genome of HHV-6 have demonstrated unequivocally that it is a member of the betaherpesvirus subgroup and have indicated that the HHV-6 genome is generally collinear with the unique long (U(L)) component of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). In the work described in this report we have extended these sequencing studies by determining the primary structure of 38.5-kbp of the HHV-6 genome (genomic position 21.0 to 59.5 kbp). Within the sequenced region lie 31 open reading frames, 20 of which are homologous to positional counterparts in HCMV. Of particular significance is the identification of homologs of the HCMV UL36- 38 and US22-type genes, which have been shown to encode transactivating proteins. We show that DNA sequences encoding these HHV-6 homologs were able to transactivate HIV-1 long terminal repeat-directed chloramphenicol acetyltransferase expression in cotransfection assays, thus demonstrating functional as well as structural conservation of these betaherpesvirus- specific gene products. Our data therefore confirm the close relationship between HHV-6 and HCMV and identify putative immediate-early regulatory genes of HHV-6 likely to play key roles in lytic replication and possibly also in the interactions between HHV-6 and HIV in dually infected cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science