Virology 2003 Sep;314(2):471-87
Institut für Klinische und Molekulare Virologie, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Schlossgarten 4, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany.
Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS), the rhadinovirus prototype, is apathogenic in the persistently infected natural host, the squirrel monkey, but causes acute T cell leukemia in other New World primate species. In contrast to subgroups A and B, only strains of HVS subgroup C such as C488 are capable of transforming primary human T cells to stable antigen-independent growth in culture. Here, we report the complete 155-kb genome sequence of the transformation-competent HVS strain C488. The A+T-rich unique L-DNA of 113,027 bp encodes at least 77 open reading frames and 5 URNAs. In addition to the viral oncogenes stp and tip, only a few genes including the transactivator orf50 and the glycoprotein orf51 are highly divergent. In a series of new primary HVS isolates, the subgroup-specific divergence of the orf50/orf51 alleles was studied. In these new isolates, the orf50/orf51 alleles of the respective subgroup segregate with the stp and/or tip oncogene alleles, which are essential for transformation.