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Trends Genet. 2007 Jan;23(1):10-5. Epub 2006 Nov 15.

I am what I eat and I eat what I am: acquisition of bacterial genes by giant viruses.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaires, CNRS 118, Route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse Cedex, France.


Giant viruses are nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs) that infect algae (phycodnaviruses) and amoebae (Mimivirus). We report an unexpected abundance in these giant viruses of islands of bacterial-type genes, including apparently intact prokaryotic mobile genetic elements, and hypothesize that NCLDV genomes undergo successive accretions of bacterial genes. The viruses could acquire bacterial genes within their bacteria-feeding eukaryotic hosts, and we suggest that such acquisition is driven by the intimate coupling of recombination and replication in NCLDVs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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