Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes chronic infection in the human host, characterized by self-limited episodes of mucosal shedding and lesional disease, with latent infection of neuronal ganglia. The epidemiology of genital herpes has undergone a significant transformation over the past two decades, with the emergence of HSV-1 as a leading cause of first-episode genital herpes in many countries. Though dsDNA viruses are not expected to mutate quickly, it is not yet known to what degree the HSV-1 viral population in a natural host adapts over time, or how often viral population variants are transmitted between hosts. This study provides a comparative genomics analysis for 33 temporally-sampled oral and genital HSV-1 genomes derived from five adult sexual transmission pairs. We found that transmission pairs harbored consensus-level viral genomes with near-complete conservation of nucleotide identity. Examination of within-host minor variants in the viral population revealed both shared and unique patterns of genetic diversity between partners, and between anatomical niches. Additionally, genetic drift was detected from spatiotemporally separated samples in as little as three days. These data expand our prior understanding of the complex interaction between HSV-1 genomics and population dynamics after transmission to new infected persons.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology