Reactivation of Chromosomally Integrated Human Herpesvirus-6 by Telomeric Circle Formation

Prusty, Bhupesh K.; Krohne, George; Rudel, Thomas
December 2013
PLoS Genetics;Dec2013, Vol. 9 Issue 12, p1
Academic Journal
More than 95% of the human population is infected with human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) during early childhood and maintains latent HHV-6 genomes either in an extra-chromosomal form or as a chromosomally integrated HHV-6 (ciHHV-6). In addition, approximately 1% of humans are born with an inheritable form of ciHHV-6 integrated into the telomeres of chromosomes. Immunosuppression and stress conditions can reactivate latent HHV-6 replication, which is associated with clinical complications and even death. We have previously shown that Chlamydia trachomatis infection reactivates ciHHV-6 and induces the formation of extra-chromosomal viral DNA in ciHHV-6 cells. Here, we propose a model and provide experimental evidence for the mechanism of ciHHV-6 reactivation. Infection with Chlamydia induced a transient shortening of telomeric ends, which subsequently led to increased telomeric circle (t-circle) formation and incomplete reconstitution of circular viral genomes containing single viral direct repeat (DR). Correspondingly, short t-circles containing parts of the HHV-6 DR were detected in cells from individuals with genetically inherited ciHHV-6. Furthermore, telomere shortening induced in the absence of Chlamydia infection also caused circularization of ciHHV-6, supporting a t-circle based mechanism for ciHHV-6 reactivation.


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