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Med Sci (Paris). 2018 Dec;34(12):1087-1091. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2018300. Epub 2019 Jan 9.

[Giant viruses that create their own genes].

[Article in French]

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Aix-Marseille université et CNRS, Information génomique et structurale (IGS), UMR7256, Institut de microbiologie de la Méditerranée-IMM-FR 3479, parc scientifique de Luminy, 163, avenue de Luminy, case 934, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France.


Since 2003 and the discovery of Mimivirus, the saga of giant viruses continues with the isolation of new amoeba viruses, which are now divided into seven distinct families, the origin (s) of which are still mysterious and controversial. Thanks to the isolation of 3 new members of the Pandoraviridae family, whose micrometric particles and genomes of more than 2 megabases encroach on the cellular world, we carried out a stringent re-analysis of their gene contents, using a combination of transcriptomic, proteomic and bioinformatic approaches. We concluded that the only scenario capable of accounting for the distribution and the huge proportion of orphan genes ("ORFans") that characterize Pandoraviruses is that they were created de novo within the intergenic regions. This process, perhaps shared among other large DNA viruses, challenges the central paradigm of molecular evolution according to which all genes / proteins have an ancestry history.


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