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Virus Genes. 2000;21(1-2):77-81.

Iridovirus homologues of cellular genes--implications for the molecular evolution of large DNA viruses.

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lnstitut für Medizinische Virologie, Universität Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Iridoviruses belong to the group of large cytoplasmic deoxyriboviruses and infect either insects or vertebrates. In analogy to other large DNA viruses of eucaryotes it was found that iridoviruses encode a number of cellular protein homologues. The majority of these proteins represent orthologues of cellular enzymes involved in transcription, replication, and nucleotide metabolism. Others may have the potential to interfere with cell cycle regulation or immune defence mechanisms of the host. This raises the question about the phylogenetic origin of the corresponding viral genes. During the evolution of large cytoplasmic DNA viruses such as iridoviruses, poxviruses, and African swine fever virus the acquirement of cellular genes appears to be a crucial event. Each member of this group of viruses encodes a DNA polymerase, two subunits of the DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and two subunits of the ribonucleotide reductase. It is important to note that all of these viral proteins show a high level of multidomain structure conservation as compared to their cellular orthologues. As a consequence the large cytoplasmic DNAviruses have the ability to replicate independently of the cellular nucleus in the cytoplasm of the infected cell. Assuming a common cellular origin of viral DNA polymerase genes the corresponding amino acid sequences were chosen to construct a phylogenetic tree showing the relatedness among large DNA viruses of eucaryotes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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