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Genomic variation of the fibropapilloma-associated marine turtle herpes virus across seven geographic areas and three host species

January 1, 2005

Fibropapillomatosis (FP) of marine turtles is an emerging neoplastic disease associated with infection by a novel turtle herpesvirus, fibropapilloma-associated turtle herpesvirus (FPTHV). This report presents 23 kb of the genome of an FPTHV infecting a Hawaiian green turtle (Chelonia mydas). By sequence homology, the open reading frames in this contig correspond to herpes simplex virus genes UL23 through UL36. The order, orientation, and homology of these putative genes indicate that FPTHV is a member of the Alphaherpesvirinae. The UL27-, UL30-, and UL34-homologous open reading frames from FPTHVs infecting nine FP-affected marine turtles from seven geographic areas and three turtle species (C. mydas, Caretta caretta, and Lepidochelys olivacea) were compared. A high degree of nucleotide sequence conservation was found among these virus variants. However, geographic variations were also found: the FPTHVs examined here form four groups, corresponding to the Atlantic Ocean, West pacific, mid-Pacific, and east Pacific. Our results indicate that FPTHV was established in marine turtle populations prior to the emergence of FP as it is currently known.

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