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Adv Virus Res. 2006;66:293-336.

Chlorella viruses.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biotechnology, Graduate School of Advanced Sciences of Matter, Hiroshima University, Higashi, Japan.


Chlorella viruses or chloroviruses are large, icosahedral, plaque-forming, double-stranded-DNA-containing viruses that replicate in certain strains of the unicellular green alga Chlorella. DNA sequence analysis of the 330-kbp genome of Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus 1 (PBCV-1), the prototype of this virus family (Phycodnaviridae), predict approximately 366 protein-encoding genes and 11 tRNA genes. The predicted gene products of approximately 50% of these genes resemble proteins of known function, including many that are completely unexpected for a virus. In addition, the chlorella viruses have several features and encode many gene products that distinguish them from most viruses. These products include: (1) multiple DNA methyltransferases and DNA site-specific endonucleases, (2) the enzymes required to glycosylate their proteins and synthesize polysaccharides such as hyaluronan and chitin, (3) a virus-encoded K(+) channel (called Kcv) located in the internal membrane of the virions, (4) a SET domain containing protein (referred to as vSET) that dimethylates Lys27 in histone 3, and (5) PBCV-1 has three types of introns; a self-splicing intron, a spliceosomal processed intron, and a small tRNA intron. Accumulating evidence indicates that the chlorella viruses have a very long evolutionary history. This review mainly deals with research on the virion structure, genome rearrangements, gene expression, cell wall degradation, polysaccharide synthesis, and evolution of PBCV-1 as well as other related viruses.

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