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Mol Biol Evol. 2003 Jun;20(6):979-87. Epub 2003 Apr 25.

Genome-wide survey for genes horizontally transferred from cellular organisms to baculoviruses.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.


The phylogeny of 13 viral species in the genera Granulovirus and Nucleopolyhedrovirus (family Baculoviridae) was reconstructed on the basis of 22 conserved protein families shared by all species, and a comprehensive homology search and phylogenetic analysis of the complete genomes of these viruses was used to test for horizontal gene transfer from cellular organisms. Statistically significant evidence of horizontal transfer was found in the case of six protein families (DNA ligase, ribonucleotide reductase 1, SNF2 global transactivator, inhibitor of apoptosis, chitinase, and UDP-glucosyltransferase). Three of these families are known to play key roles in the infection of insect hosts by these viruses. There was evidence that two of these (inhibitor of apoptosis and UDP-glucosyltransferase) were derived from the insect host. By contrast, the gene encoding chitinase in these viruses was evidently derived from a group of bacteria (the gamma subdivision of proteobacteria), which use chitinase to break down fungal chitins.

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