The gammaherpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68, MuHV-4, γHV68), are etiologic agents of a wide range of lymphomas and non-hematological malignancies. These viruses possess large and highly dense dsDNA genomes that feature >80 bidirectionally positioned open reading frames (ORFs). The abundance of overlapping transcripts and extensive splicing throughout these genomes have until now prohibited high throughput-based resolution of transcript structures. Here, we integrate the capabilities of long-read sequencing with the accuracy of short-read platforms to globally resolve MHV68 transcript structures using the transcript resolution through integration of multi-platform data (TRIMD) pipeline. This approach reveals highly complex features, including: (1) pervasive overlapping transcript structures; (2) transcripts containing intra-gene or trans-gene splices that yield chimeric ORFs; (3) antisense and intergenic transcripts containing ORFs; and (4) noncoding transcripts. This work sheds light on the underappreciated complexity of gammaherpesvirus transcription and provides an extensively revised annotation of the MHV68 transcriptome. The highly dense dsDNA genomes of herpesviruses feature an abundance of overlapping transcripts and extensive splicing, greatly hindering the global identification of individual transcripts. O'Grady et al. use integrated multi-platform genomics to globally resolve transcript structures from murine gammaherpesvirus 68, providing an extensively revised genome annotation.
O’Grady, T., Feswick, A., Hoffman, B. A., Wang, Y., Medina, E. M., Kara, M., … Tibbetts, S. A. (2019). Genome-wide Transcript Structure Resolution Reveals Abundant Alternate Isoform Usage from Murine Gammaherpesvirus 68. Cell Reports, 27(13), 3988-4002.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.086