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Islands of linkage in an ocean of pervasive recombination reveals two-speed evolution of human cytomegalovirus genomes

Lassalle, F; Depledge, DP; Reeves, MB; Brown, AC; Christiansen, MT; Tutill, HJ; Williams, RJ; ... Breuer, J; + view all (2016) Islands of linkage in an ocean of pervasive recombination reveals two-speed evolution of human cytomegalovirus genomes. Virus Evolution , 2 (1) , Article vew017. 10.1093/ve/vew017. Green open access

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Abstract

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infects most of the population worldwide, persisting throughout the host's life in a latent state with periodic episodes of reactivation. While typically asymptomatic, HCMV can cause fatal disease among congenitally infected infants and immunocompromised patients. These clinical issues are compounded by the emergence of antiviral resistance and the absence of an effective vaccine, the development of which is likely complicated by the numerous immune evasins encoded by HCMV to counter the host's adaptive immune responses, a feature that facilitates frequent super-infections. Understanding the evolutionary dynamics of HCMV is essential for the development of effective new drugs and vaccines. By comparing viral genomes from uncultivated or low-passaged clinical samples of diverse origins, we observe evidence of frequent homologous recombination events, both recent and ancient, and no structure of HCMV genetic diversity at the whole-genome scale. Analysis of individual gene-scale loci reveals a striking dichotomy: while most of the genome is highly conserved, recombines essentially freely and has evolved under purifying selection, 21 genes display extreme diversity, structured into distinct genotypes that do not recombine with each other. Most of these hyper-variable genes encode glycoproteins involved in cell entry or escape of host immunity. Evidence that half of them have diverged through episodes of intense positive selection suggests that rapid evolution of hyper-variable loci is likely driven by interactions with host immunity. It appears that this process is enabled by recombination unlinking hyper-variable loci from strongly constrained neighboring sites. It is conceivable that viral mechanisms facilitating super-infection have evolved to promote recombination between diverged genotypes, allowing the virus to continuously diversify at key loci to escape immune detection, while maintaining a genome optimally adapted to its asymptomatic infectious lifecycle.

Type: Article
Title: Islands of linkage in an ocean of pervasive recombination reveals two-speed evolution of human cytomegalovirus genomes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/ve/vew017
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1093/ve/vew017
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: CMV, recombination, immune evasion, viral evolution
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Infection and Immunity
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1517827
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