Combination of long- and short-read sequencing fully resolves complex repeats of herpes simplex virus 2 strain MS complete genome

Microb Genom. 2021 Jun;7(6):000586. doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.000586.


Herpes simplex virus serotype 2 (HSV-2) is a ubiquitous human pathogen that causes recurrent genital infections and ulcerations. Many HSV-2 strains with different biological properties have been identified, but only the genomes of HSV-2 strains HG52, SD90e and 333 have been reported as complete and fully characterized sequences. We de novo assembled, annotated and manually curated the complete genome sequence of HSV-2 strain MS, a highly neurovirulent strain, originally isolated from a multiple sclerosis patient. We resolved both DNA ends, as well as the complex inverted repeats regions present in HSV genomes, usually undisclosed in previous published partial herpesvirus genomes, using long reads from Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) technology. Additionally, we identified isomeric genomes by determining the alternative relative orientation of unique fragments in the genome of the sequenced viral population. Illumina short-read sequencing was crucial to examine genetic variability, such as nucleotide polymorphisms, insertion/deletions and sequence determinants of strain-specific virulence factors. We used Illumina data to fix two disrupted open reading frames found in coding homopolymers after PacBio assembly. These results support the combination of long- and short-read sequencing technologies as a precise and effective approach for the accurate de novo assembly and curation of complex microbial genomes.

Keywords: HSV isomers; HSV-2 MS; long- and short-read sequencing; viral genome assembly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / classification
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • Humans
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Assembly
  • Whole Genome Sequencing