The genetic diversity of persistent infectious agents, such as HHV-8, correlates closely with the migration of modern humans out of East Africa which makes them useful to trace human migrations. However, there is scarce data about the evolutionary history of HHV-8 particularly in multiethnic Latin American populations.
The aims of this study were to characterize the genetic diversity and the phylogeography of HHV-8 in two distant geographic regions of Argentina, and to establish potential associations with pathogenic conditions and the genetic ancestry of the population.
A total of 101 HIV-1 infected subjects, 93 Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) patients and 411 blood donors were recruited in the metropolitan (MET) and north-western regions of Argentina (NWA). HHV-8 DNA was detected by ORF-26 PCR in whole blood, saliva and FFPE tissues. Then, ORF-26 and ORF-K1 were analyzed for subtype assignment. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome haplogroups, as well as autosomal ancestry markers were evaluated in samples in which subtypes could be assigned. Phylogeographic analysis was performed in the ORF-K1 sequences from this study combined with 388 GenBank sequences.
HHV-8 was detected in 50.7%, 59.2% and 8% of samples from HIV-1 infected subjects, KS patients and blood donors, respectively. ORF-K1 phylogenetic analyses showed that subtypes A (A1-A5), B1, C (C1-C3) and F were present in 46.9%, 6.25%, 43.75% and 3.1% of cases, respectively. Analyses of ORF-26 fragment revealed that 81.95% of strains were subtypes A/C followed by J, B2, R, and K. The prevalence of subtype J was more commonly observed among KS patients when compared to the other groups. Among KS patients, subtype A/C was more commonly detected in MET whereas subtype J was the most frequent in NWA. Subtypes A/C was significantly associated with Native American maternal haplogroups (p = 0.004), whereas subtype J was related to non-Native American haplogroups (p < 0.0001). Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Latin America were the most probable locations from where HHV-8 was introduced to Argentina.
These results give evidence of the geographic circulation of HHV-8 in Argentina, suggest the association of ORF-26 subtype J with KS development and provide new insights about its relationship with ancient and modern human migrations and identify the possible origins of this virus in Argentina.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.