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Mol Biol Evol. 1996 Dec;13(10):1327-38.

Tobamovirus evolution: gene overlaps, recombination, and taxonomic implications.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078-3035, USA.


Tobamoviruses, mostly isolated from solanaceous plants, may represent ancient virus lineages that have codiverged with their hosts. Recently completed nucleotide sequences of six nonsolanaceous tobamoviruses allowed assessment of the codivergence hypothesis and support a third subgroup within tobamoviruses. The genomic sequences of 12 tobamoviruses and the partial sequences of 11 others have been analyzed. Comparisons of the predicted protein sequences revealed three clusters of tobamoviruses, corresponding to those infecting solanaceous species (subgroup 1), those infecting cucurbits and legumes (subgroup 2), and those infecting crucifers. The orchid-infecting odontoglossum ringspot tobamovirus was associated with subgroup 1 genomes by its coat and movement protein sequences, but with the crucifer-pathogenic tobamoviruses by the remainder of its genome, suggesting that it is the progeny of a recombinant. For four of five genomic regions, subgroup 1 and 3 genomes were equidistant from a subgroup 2 genome chosen for comparison, suggesting uniform rates of evolution. A phylogenetic tree of plant families based on the tobamoviruses they harbor was congruent with that based on rubisco sequences but had a different root, suggesting that codivergence was tempered by rare events of viruses of one family colonizing another family. The proposed subgroup 3 viruses probably have an origin of virion assembly in the movement protein gene, a large (25-codon) overlap of movement and coat protein open reading frames, and a comparably shorter genome. Codon-position-dependent base compositions and codon prevalences suggested that the coat protein frame of the overlap region was ancestral. Bootstrapped parsimony analysis of the nucleotides in the overlap region and of the sequences translated from the -1 frame (the subgroup 3 movement protein frame) of this region produced trees inconsistent with those deduced from other regions. The results are consistent with a model in which a no or short overlap organization was ancestral. Despite encoding of subgroup 2 and 3 movement protein C-termini by nonhomologous nucleotides, weak similarities between their amino acid sequences suggested convergent sequence evolution.

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