Some herpesviruses, particularly lymphotropic viruses such as Marek's disease virus (MDV) and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), integrate their DNA into host chromosomes. MDV and HHV-6, among other herpesviruses, harbor telomeric repeats (TMRs) identical to host telomeres at either end of their linear genomes. Using MDV as a natural virus-host model, we show that herpesvirus TMRs facilitate viral genome integration into host telomeres and that integration is important for establishment of latency and lymphoma formation. Integration into host telomeres also aids in reactivation from the quiescent state of infection. Our results and the presence of TMRs in many herpesviruses suggest that integration mediated by viral TMRs is a conserved mechanism, which ensures faithful virus genome maintenance in host cells during cell division and allows efficient mobilization of dormant viral genomes. This finding is of particular importance as reactivation is critical for virus spread between susceptible individuals and is necessary for continued herpesvirus evolution and survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy