Nav: Home

Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology

December 20, 2007

Herpesvirus May Play Role in Central Nervous System Diseases

Scientists have discovered evidence suggesting a herpesvirus may be responsible for some cases of meningitis and encephalitis. Researchers from the New York State Department of Public Health, Albany and SUNY, Albany report their findings in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is one of the most prevalent in humans. There are two variants of HHV-6, HHV-6A and HHV-6B which is attributed to a common childhood disease characterized by a high fever and rash. Studies indicate that by age 3 the majority of children have been infected by HHV-6, after which the virus persists in the salivary glands into adulthood. The virus may remain dormant or reactivate in immunocompetent or immunocompromised individuals.

Over a span of four years, researchers collected specimens from patients hospitalized with symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis, and tested them for the presence of HHV-6. The majority of the specimens were taken from cerebrospinal fluid and some of the symptoms exhibited by the patients include fever, altered mental status, and abnormal CSF profile, as well as seizures in those ages 3 and under. Results showed that 26 specimens from 24 patients were positive for HHV-6, of which 20 were identified as the HHV-6B strain. Forty-two percent of the patients were age 3 or under, possibly indicating primary infection, while the remaining patients ranging from 4 to 81 years old were probably experiencing viral reactivation.

"The detection of HHV-6 in specimens from patients diagnosed with encephalitis or meningitis, in the absence of a positive PCR result for other agents, strongly suggests a role for HHV-6 in the pathogenesis of these central system diseases," say the researchers.

(N.P. Tavakoli, S. Nattanmai, R. Hull, H. Fusco, L. Dzigua, H. Wang, M. Dupuis. 2007. Detection and typing of human herpesvirus 6 by molecular methods in specimens from patients diagnosed with encephalitis or meningitis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 45. 12: 3972-3978.)




Novel Virus Identified in Endangered Species May Represent Evolution of Two Major Virus Families

The near extinction of the western barred bandicoot has led to the identification of a novel virus exhibiting characteristics of two ancient virus families. The researchers from Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, and the University of Leuven, Belgium report their findings in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Virology.

The western barred bandicoot (WWB), an Australian marsupial once commonly found across western and southern Australia, is now endangered throughout parts of the country and already extinct on the mainland. While promoting conservation efforts, researchers discovered a debilitating disease affecting the species causing full body lesions.

Papillomaviruses (PVs) and polyomaviruses (PyVs) are known to infect human, mammalian, and avian species. They were previously considered subunits of the Papovaviridae family, however they are currently recognized as two separate virus families due to significantly different genome sizes and organizations. In the study researchers analyzed skin swabs taken from the lesions of infected WWBs and identified a novel virus exhibiting properties of both the Papillomaviridae and Polyomaviridae family. They have designated this new prototype the bandicoot papillomatosis carcinomatosis virus type 1 (BPCV1).

"BPCV1 may represent the first member of a novel virus family, descended from a common ancestor of the papillomaviruses and polyomaviruses recognized today," say the researchers. "The discovery of the virus could have implications for the current taxonomic classification of Papillomaviridae and Polyomaviridae and can provide further insight into the evolution of these ancient virus families."

L. Woolford, A. Rector, M.V. Ranst, A. Ducki, M.D. Bennett, P.K. Nicholls, K.S. Warren, R.A. Swan, G.E. Wilcox, A.J. O'Hara. 2007. A novel virus detected in papillomavirus and carcinomas of the endangered western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville) exhibits genomic features of both the Papillomaviridae and Polyomaviridae. Journal of Virology, 81. 24: 13280-13290.)
-end-


American Society for Microbiology

Related Evolution Articles:

Prebiotic evolution: Hairpins help each other out
The evolution of cells and organisms is thought to have been preceded by a phase in which informational molecules like DNA could be replicated selectively.
How to be a winner in the game of evolution
A new study by University of Arizona biologists helps explain why different groups of animals differ dramatically in their number of species, and how this is related to differences in their body forms and ways of life.
The galloping evolution in seahorses
A genome project, comprising six evolutionary biologists from Professor Axel Meyer's research team from Konstanz and researchers from China and Singapore, sequenced and analyzed the genome of the tiger tail seahorse.
Fast evolution affects everyone, everywhere
Rapid evolution of other species happens all around us all the time -- and many of the most extreme examples are associated with human influences.
Landscape evolution and hazards
Landscapes are formed by a combination of uplift and erosion.
New insight into enzyme evolution
How enzymes -- the biological proteins that act as catalysts and help complex reactions occur -- are 'tuned' to work at a particular temperature is described in new research from groups in New Zealand and the UK, including the University of Bristol.
The evolution of Dark-fly
On Nov. 11, 1954, Syuiti Mori turned out the lights on a small group of fruit flies.
A look into the evolution of the eye
A team of researchers, among them a zoologist from the University of Cologne, has succeeded in reconstructing a 160 million year old compound eye of a fossil crustacean found in southeastern France visible.
Is evolution more intelligent than we thought?
Evolution may be more intelligent than we thought, according to a University of Southampton professor.
The evolution of antievolution policies
Organized opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schoolsin the United States began in the 1920s, leading to the famous Scopes Monkey trial.

Related Evolution Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...