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Virology. 1997 Jun 23;233(1):19-42.

The genome of molluscum contagiosum virus: analysis and comparison with other poxviruses.

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Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Analysis of the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) genome revealed that it encodes approximately 182 proteins, 105 of which have direct counterparts in orthopoxviruses (OPV). The corresponding OPV proteins comprise those known to be essential for replication as well as many that are still uncharacterized, including 2 of less than 60 amino acids that had not been previously noted. The OPV proteins most highly conserved in MCV are involved in transcription; the least conserved include membrane glycoproteins. Twenty of the MCV proteins with OPV counterparts also have cellular homologs and additional MCV proteins have conserved functional motifs. Of the 77 predicted MCV proteins without OPV counterparts, 10 have similarity to other MCV proteins and/or distant similarity to proteins of other poxviruses and 16 have cellular homologs including some predicted to antagonize host defenses. Clustering poxvirus proteins by sequence similarity revealed 3 unique MCV gene families and 8 families that are conserved in MCV and OPV. Two unique families contain putative membrane receptors; the third includes 2 proteins, each containing 2 DED apoptosis signal transduction domains. Additional families with conserved patterns of cysteines and putative redox active centers were identified. Promoters, transcription termination signals, and DNA concatemer resolution sequences are highly conserved in MCV and OPV. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that MCV, OPV, and leporipoxviruses radiated from a common poxvirus ancestor after the divergence of avipoxviruses. Despite the acquisition of unique genes for host interactions and changes in GC content, the physical order and regulation of essential ancestral poxvirus genes have been largely conserved in MCV and OPV.

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