The researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and University Hospital of Bonn, Germany, have coined the novel term "Bioportfolio" to describe viral genomic material remaining in the human body after infection. Using human erythrovirus as the example, the authors have demonstrated that viral genomic material persisting in the human body yields valuable information on viral phylogeny and on molecular epidemiology of infection.
Although these results are of greatest interest to the relatively small group interested in erythrovirus (parvovirus) research, the ideas discussed are of wider interest because they explore in an imaginative way some fundamental biological events occurring during and after infection.
The research group lead by professor Klaus Hedman at the University of Helsinki have investigated by qualitative and quantitative molecular assays a large number of human tissue samples (birth-year range 1913-2000) and patient sera from the past two decades, for genomic DNA of new and previously known human erythrovirus types. They disclosed in human tissues erythrovirus genome persistence, which is ubiquitous and life-long, and represents a new source of information of our past -- which they termed the Bioportfolio.
In the Bioportfolio the researchers observed that in Central and Northern Europe the newly found erythrovirus type 2 in occurrence was actually older than the virus prototype; and that the other recently found type 3 never attained wide circulation in the area during the 70-year observation period from the thirties to the present day. Thereby, the Bioportfolio constitutes at the individual level a new form of "medical record" for one's infectious encounters. At the global and epidemiological level, it provides a novel database for analysis of the occurrence and circulation of microbial species and their variants.
Furthermore, in light of the previously shown integrity and full-length coding potential of the persistent macromolecular viral DNA genomes, the Bioportfolio might provide the desired long-term permanence for gene therapy vectors, which in the future could be designed in accordance with this innate characteristic of the human body.
Norja P, Hokynar K, Aaltonen L-M, Chen R, Ranki A, Partio EK, Kiviluoto O, Davidkin I, Leivo T, Eis-HÃ¼binger AM, Schneider B, Fischer H-P, Tolba R, Vapalahti O, Vaheri A, Soderlund-Venermo M, Hedman K: Bioportfolio: Lifelong persistence of variant and prototypic erythrovirus DNA genomes in human tissue, PNAS April , 2006 (online).
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