Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Your viruses could reveal your travel history, and more

04.04.2016

The genomes of two distinct strains of the virus that causes the common lip cold sore, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), have been identified within an individual person -- an achievement that could be useful to forensic scientists for tracing a person's history. The research also opens the door to understanding how a patient's viruses influence the course of disease. The research by an international team led by Moriah L. Szpara, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, will be published in the May 2016 issue of the journal Virology.

Most people harbor HSV-1, frequently as a strain acquired from their mothers shortly after birth and carried for the rest of their lives. The new discovery was made with the help of a volunteer from the United States. The research revealed that one strain of the HSV-1 virus harbored by this individual is of a European/North American variety and the other is an Asian variety -- likely acquired during the volunteer's military service in the Korean War in the 1950s.


Caption

This is a reconstruction of a herpes simplex virus capsid, based on data from electron microscopy studies.

Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison

"It's possible that more people have their life history documented at the molecular level in the HSV-1 strains they carry," said Derek Gatherer, a lecturer in the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom and a member of the research team, which also includes scientists at Georgia State University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Princeton University.

Earlier research by the same team has demonstrated that the geographical origin of HSV-1 can be predicted, as well. Since Asian, African, and European/North American varieties of the virus exist, and the virus is often acquired early in life, the research implies that a personal strain of HSV-1 can reflect a person's origin. Another implication is that two individuals who have identical strains of HSV-1 are more likely to be related than those who have different strains.

"Using similar genetic fingerprinting of HSV-1 could help flesh out a person's life story, adding an extra layer of genetic information not provided by our genomes alone. Forensic virology could be on the way in the same way in which we use genetic fingerprinting of our human DNA to locate perpetrators at the scene of a crime and to help trace the relatives of unidentified bodies," Gatherer said.

"We're working on better ways to sequence viral genomes from ever-smaller amounts of starting material, to allow identification and comparison of samples from diverse sources," said Szpara, who also is affiliated with Penn State's Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. "Deep sequencing of viruses like HSV-1 will provide a better view of the viral genetic diversity that individuals harbor, and will provide valuable information about how that influences the course of disease."

In addition to Szpara and Gatherer, other members of the research team include Christopher D. Bowen, Daniel W. Renner, and Jacob T. Shreve at Penn State (Eberly College of Science and Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences), Yolanda Tafuri at Princeton University, Kimberly M. Payne and Paul Kinchington at the University of Pittsburgh, and Richard D. Dix at Georgia State University and Emory University.

This research was supported by startup funds from Penn State University, along with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Eye & Ear Institute of Pittsburgh, and Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc.

###

CONTACTS

Moriah Szpara: moriah@psu.edu, (+1) 814-867-0008

Barbara Kennedy (PIO): science@psu.edu, (+1) 814-863-4682

IMAGES and ARCHIVE

Images and and archive of this information are at http://science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2016-news/Szpara4-2016.

Media Contact

Barbara K. Kennedy
BarbaraKennedy@psu.edu
814-863-4682

 @penn_state

http://live.psu.edu 

Barbara K. Kennedy | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>