BACKGROUND: Herpesviruses cause significant morbidity and mortality in a range of animal species, including those of the order Marsupialia. There is currently no published marsupial herpesvirus genome available.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this project was to perform the first comprehensive whole genome sequence analysis of a clinically important marsupial herpesvirus, macropodid herpesvirus 1 (MaHV1). This was undertaken in order to facilitate the development of improved diagnostic tools and to contribute a unique insight into the relationship between herpesviruses from evolutionarily diverse mammalian species.
METHODS: Full genome sequencing, annotation and analysis were performed in conjunction with in vitro gene expression studies that utilised reverse transcription PCRs.
RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS: The draft genome of MaHV1 was prepared and preliminary gene transcript analysis confirmed the in vitro expression of six novel genes. An absence of several conserved genes: UL3, UL4, UL56 and gJ was also observed. Interestingly, the full genome sequence results confirmed findings from earlier studies that showed MaHV1 to cluster with a number of alphaherpesviruses from primate hosts.