To study human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) transmission between individuals and in populations, we developed a system for genetic fingerprinting of HHV-8 strains based on variation in the HHV-8 K1, glycoprotein B (gB), and glycoprotein H (gH) genes. Using this system, we sequenced nearly the entire K1 gene (840 bp); two segments of the gB gene (open reading frame 8), totaling 813 bp; and a 702-bp segment of the gH gene (open reading frame 22) from blood and tissue samples obtained from 40 human immunodeficiency virus- infected and noninfected individuals, including those with Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, or Castleman's disease. The specimen collection was assembled from individuals living in diverse geographical locations, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Uganda, and Zambia. As reported by others, K1 was the most variable gene, with up to 16% variation at the nucleotide sequence level and up to 32% variation at the amino acid sequence level. Despite this extensive sequence variation, the K1 amino acid sequence contained 14 conserved cysteine sites, suggesting a conserved tertiary structure, gB and gH sequences were highly conserved, in most cases differing by <0.6% in pairwise comparisons. K1 was the most useful gene for strain discrimination, but the other genes enabled the discrimination of strains with identical K1 sequences. Individuals from diverse geographic locations were infected with four different HHV-8 genotypes; strains did not strictly segregate by continent of origin. The majority of HHV-8 strains from the United States and Europe were relatively closely related, whereas some strains identified from Uganda and Australia were phylogenetically distant. Genotype I strains were the most common and were found on three continents. Identical sequences were found in specimens obtained from different body sites and at different times from the same individual.
ASJC Scopus subject areas