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- Davison, Andrew J.
- Veterinary microbiology 2010 v.143 no.1 pp. 52-69
- zoonoses, viral diseases of animals and humans, Cytomegalovirus, Human herpesvirus 5, herpes simplex, Human herpesvirus 1, Human herpesvirus 2, taxonomy, microbial genetics, molecular genetics, molecular systematics, sequence analysis, genes, nucleotide sequences, genome, genomics, new methods, gene banks, multigene family, databases, validity
- This paper is about the taxonomy and genomics of herpesviruses. Each theme is presented as a digest of current information flanked by commentaries on past activities and future directions. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses recently instituted a major update of herpesvirus classification. The former family Herpesviridae was elevated to a new order, the Herpesvirales, which now accommodates 3 families, 3 subfamilies, 17 genera and 90 species. Future developments will include revisiting the herpesvirus species definition and the criteria used for taxonomic assignment, particularly in regard to the possibilities of classifying the large number of herpesviruses detected only as DNA sequences by polymerase chain reaction. Nucleotide sequence accessions in primary databases, such as GenBank, consist of the sequences plus annotations of the genetic features. The quality of these accessions is important because they provide a knowledge base that is used widely by the research community. However, updating the accessions to take account of improved knowledge is essentially reserved to the original depositors, and this activity is rarely undertaken. Thus, the primary databases are likely to become antiquated. In contrast, secondary databases are open to curation by experts other than the original depositors, thus increasing the likelihood that they will remain up to date. One of the most promising secondary databases is RefSeq, which aims to furnish the best available annotations for complete genome sequences. Progress in regard to improving the RefSeq herpesvirus accessions is discussed, and insights into particular aspects of herpesvirus genomics arising from this work are reported.