dAn alpha-herpesvirus has recently been associated with green turtle fibropapilloma (FP). To further understand the etiological role of this newfound green turtle herpesvirus (GTHV) in the pathogenesis of FP, expression of GTHV polymerase (pol) gene was determined in tumors and normal-appearing nontumor tissues and organs from five green turtles suffering multiple fibropapillomas, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR). Amplification of RNA prepared from tumor tissues evidenced the substantial expression of GTHV DNA pol gene in all specimens tested (15/15). However, GTHV pol gene expression in normal-appearing tissues and organs of affected animals was limited (4/45), and GTHV mRNA was detected only in periorbital tissue (1/2), gallbladder (2/5) and lung (1/5) by nested RTPCR. By contrast, RTPCR evaluation of RNA isolated from non-tumored turtles revealed undetectable expression of this herpesvirus gene. cDNA sequence analysis revealed that GTHV gene sequences were identical in different tumors. Our data represent the first evidence of the replication of this putative turtle herpesvirus in affected green turtles and fibropapilloma tissues are always active sites of GTHV mRNA synthesis. These findings extend and substantiate the pathogenic association of GTHV with FP.
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