The genus Macavirus of the subfamily Gammaherpesvirinae includes viruses that infect lymphoid cells of domestic and wild ruminants and swine, causing asymptomatic latent infections in reservoir hosts. Here, we describe the genome of bovine herpesvirus 6 (BoHV-6), a macavirus ubiquitous in healthy cattle populations. The BoHV-6 genome exhibited architecture conserved in macaviruses, including a repetitive H-DNA region and unique 141 kbp L-DNA region predicted to encode 77 genes. BoHV-6 encoded, in variable genomic regions, a novel complement of genes relative to other characterized macaviruses, probably contributing to distinctive aspects of BoHV-6 infection biology and host range. Most notably, BoHV-6 encoded the first herpesviral protein (Bov2.b2) similar to cellular ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme that catalyses the first and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of polyamines. Bov2.b2 conceivably mediates a novel mechanism by which BoHV-6 promotes cell-cycle-dependent viral replication.
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