Lymphocryptovirus phylogeny and the origins of Epstein-Barr virus

J Gen Virol. 2010 Mar;91(Pt 3):630-42. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.017251-0. Epub 2009 Nov 18.


Specimens from wild and captive primates were collected and novel members of the genus Lymphocryptovirus (subfamily Gammaherpesvirinae) were searched for utilizing PCR for the DNA polymerase gene. Twenty-one novel viruses were detected. Together with previous findings, more than 50 distinct lymphocryptoviruses (LCVs) are now known, with hosts from six primate families (Hominidae, Hylobatidae, Cercopithecidae, Atelidae, Cebidae and Pitheciidae). Further work extended genomic sequences for 25 LCVs to 3.4-7.4 kbp. Phylogenetic trees were constructed, based on alignments of protein sequences inferred from the LCV genomic data. The LCVs fell into three major clades: Clade A, comprising New World viruses; Clade B, containing both Old World monkey viruses and hominoid viruses including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV); and Clade C, containing other hominoid viruses. By comparison with the primate tree, it was proposed that major elements of the LCV tree represented synchronous evolution with host lineages, with the earliest node in both trees being the separation of Old and New World lines, but that some virus lineages originated by interspecies transfer. From comparisons of branch lengths, it was inferred that evolutionary substitution in Clade B has proceeded more slowly than elsewhere in the LCV tree. It was estimated that in Clade B a subclade containing EBV, a gorilla virus and two chimpanzee viruses derived from an Old World monkey LCV line approximately 12 million years ago, and another subclade containing an orang-utan virus and a gibbon virus derived from a macaque LCV line approximately 1.2 million years ago.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Lymphocryptovirus / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Primates / virology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • DNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase