Complete genome sequence of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 4, the first example of a GC-rich branch proboscivirus

Paul D. Ling, Simon Y. Long, Angela Fuery, Rong Sheng Peng, Sarah Y. Heaggans, Xiang Qin, Kim C. Worley, Shannon Dugan, Gary S. Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A novel group of mammalian DNA viruses called elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) belonging to the Proboscivirus genus has been associated with nearly 100 cases of highly lethal acute hemorrhagic disease in young Asian elephants worldwide. The complete 180-kb genomes of prototype strains from three AT-rich branch viruses, EEHV1A, EEHV1B, and EEHV5, have been published. However, less than 6 kb of DNA sequence each from EEHV3, EEHV4, and EEHV7 showed them to be a hugely diverged second major branch with GC-rich characteristics. Here, we determined the complete 206-kb genome of EEHV4(Baylor) directly from trunk wash DNA by nextgeneration sequencing and de novo assembly procedures. Among a total of 119 genes with an overall colinear organization similar to those of the AT-rich EEHVs, major features of EEHV4 include a family of 26 paralogous 7xTM and vGPCR-like genes plus 25 novel or missing genes. The genome also contains an unusual distribution of tracts of 5 to 11 successive A or T nucleotides in intergenic domains between the mostly much higher GC content protein coding regions. Furthermore, an extremely high GC-rich bias in the third wobble position of codons clearly delineates the coding regions for many but not all proteins. There are also two novel captured cellular genes, including a C-type lectin (vECTL) and an O-linked acetylglucosamine transferase (vOGT), as well as an unusually large and complex Ori-Lyt dyad symmetry domain. Finally, 30 kb from a second strain proved to include three small chimeric domains, indicating the existence of distinct EEHV4A and EEHV4B subtypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00081-15
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Acute hemorrhagic disease
  • Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses
  • Elephas maximus calf
  • Evolutionary divergence
  • G-plus- C nucleotide content bias
  • Trunk wash shedding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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