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Possible Mechanisms of Acquisition of Herpesvirus Virokines

E. A. Gorshkova1,2 and E. S. Shilov1,2*

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia

2Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: shilov_evgeny@inbox.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received June 17, 2016; Revision received July 29, 2016
The genomes of certain types of human and primate herpesviruses contain functional homologs of important host cytokines (IL-6, IL-17, and IL-10), or so-called virokines. Virokines can interact with immune cell receptors, transmit a signal to them, and thus switch the type of immune response that facilitates viral infection development. In this work, we have summarized possible ways of virokine origin and proposed an evolutionary scenario of virokine acquisition with involvement of retroviral coinfection of the host. This scenario is probably valid for vIL-6 of HHV-8 and MRV-5 viruses, vIL-17 of HVS virus, and vIL-10 of HHV-4, Bonobo-HV, RhLCV, and BaLCV viruses. The ability to acquire cytokine genes allows herpesviruses to implement unique strategies of avoiding the immune response and provides them an evolutionary advantage: more than 90% of the host population can be chronically infected with different herpesviruses. It is possible that the biological success of herpesviruses can be partially due to their cooperation with another group of viruses. This hypothesis emphasizes the importance of studies on the reciprocal influence of pathogens on their coinfection, as well as their impact on the host organism.
KEY WORDS: virokines, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, herpesviruses, retroviruses, horizontal gene transfer

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916110122