Author(s):Kolb AW,Brandt CR. Genomic nucleotide-based distance analysis for delimiting old world monkey derived herpes simplex virus species. BMC Genomics. 2020 Jun 26;21(1):436. doi: 10.1186/s12864-020-06847-w. PMID 32590937
Journal: Bmc Genomics, Volume 21, Issue 1, Jun 2020
BACKGROUND Herpes simplex viruses form a genus within the alphaherpesvirus subfamily, with three identified viral species isolated from Old World monkeys (OWM); Macacine alphaherpesvirus 1 (McHV-1; herpes B), Cercopithecine alphaherpesvirus 2 (SA8), and Papiine alphaherpesvirus 2 (PaHV-2; herpes papio). Herpes B is endemic to macaques, while PaHV-2 and SA8 appear endemic to baboons. All three viruses are genetically and antigenically similar, with SA8 and PaHV-2 thought to be avirulent in humans, while herpes B is a biosafety level 4 pathogen. Recently, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has resulted in an increased number of published OWM herpes simplex genomes, allowing an encompassing phylogenetic analysis.
RESULTS In this study, phylogenetic networks, in conjunction with a genome-based genetic distance cutoff method were used to examine 27 OWM monkey herpes simplex isolates. Genome-based genetic distances were calculated, resulting in distances between lion and pig-tailed simplex viruses themselves, and versus herpes B core strains that were higher than those between PaHV-2 and SA8 (approximately 14 and 10% respectively). The species distance cutoff was determined to be 8.94%, with the method recovering separate species status for PaHV-2 and SA8 and showed that lion and pig-tailed simplex viruses (vs core herpes B strains) were well over the distance species cutoff.
CONCLUSIONS We propose designating lion and pig-tailed simplex viruses as separate, individual viral species, and that this may be the first identification of viral cryptic species.