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 In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins
12.11.2018 | Technische Universität Berlin

nachricht How to produce fluorescent nanoparticles for medical applications in a nuclear reactor
09.11.2018 | Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>