Non-human primates (NHP) represent an invaluable resource for elucidatingand understanding disease processes in humans, as humans and NHP shareclose developmental, physiological and evolutionary relationships (Hendrickxand Binkerd 1990). For infectious disease research, NHP have historicallyplayed an important role as they are either susceptible to infectious agentsthat cause disease in humans (Kirschstein et al. 1960) or harbor infectiousagents that are closely related to those that infect and cause disease in humans(Wenner et al. 1975). For example, NHP harbor herpesviruses that have coevolvedwith their hosts and are genetically more closely related to humanherpesviruses than other mammalian herpesviruses. More importantly, thesesimian herpesvirus homologues, which include alpha (α), beta (β) and gamma(γ)herpesviruses, are capable of causing similar, if not identical, diseasemanifestations in their natural host, which makes them excellent models todissect the complicated hostpathogen interactions that lead to disease.NHP can be divided into two groups, Old World and New World, both ofwhich harbor γ-herpesviruses that can be divided into two classes: lymphocryptovirus(γ-1) and rhadinovirus (γ-2). The phylogenetic relationship of thesimian γ-herpesviruses with human γ-herpesviruses is shown in Fig. 27.1, anddemonstrates their close evolutionarily relationships. The remainder of thischapter will discuss representative simian γ-herpesviruses from Old Worldand New World monkeys and their utility as models of human disease.Table 27.1 lists the γ-herpesviruses identified to date. Some of these viruseshave not been isolated and cultured, but have been so named on the basis oflimited DNA sequence analysis.
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