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1.  Origin and evolution of the archaeo-eukaryotic primase superfamily and related palm-domain proteins: structural insights and new members 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(12):3875-3896.
We report an in-depth computational study of the protein sequences and structures of the superfamily of archaeo-eukaryotic primases (AEPs). This analysis greatly expands the range of diversity of the AEPs and reveals the unique active site shared by all members of this superfamily. In particular, it is shown that eukaryotic nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses, including poxviruses, asfarviruses, iridoviruses, phycodnaviruses and the mimivirus, encode AEPs of a distinct family, which also includes the herpesvirus primases whose relationship to AEPs has not been recognized previously. Many eukaryotic genomes, including chordates and plants, encode previously uncharacterized homologs of these predicted viral primases, which might be involved in novel DNA repair pathways. At a deeper level of evolutionary connections, structural comparisons indicate that AEPs, the nucleases involved in the initiation of rolling circle replication in plasmids and viruses, and origin-binding domains of papilloma and polyoma viruses evolved from a common ancestral protein that might have been involved in a protein-priming mechanism of initiation of DNA replication. Contextual analysis of multidomain protein architectures and gene neighborhoods in prokaryotes and viruses reveals remarkable parallels between AEPs and the unrelated DnaG-type primases, in particular, tight associations with the same repertoire of helicases. These observations point to a functional equivalence of the two classes of primases, which seem to have repeatedly displaced each other in various extrachromosomal replicons.
PMCID: PMC1176014  PMID: 16027112
2.  DNA Viruses: The Really Big Ones (Giruses) 
Viruses with genomes greater than 300 kb and up to 1200 kb are being discovered with increasing frequency. These large viruses (often called giruses) can encode up to 900 proteins and also many tRNAs. Consequently, these viruses have more protein-encoding genes than many bacteria, and the concept of small particle/small genome that once defined viruses is no longer valid. Giruses infect bacteria and animals although most of the recently discovered ones infect protists. Thus, genome gigantism is not restricted to a specific host or phylogenetic clade. To date, most of the giruses are associated with aqueous environments. Many of these large viruses (phycodnaviruses and Mimiviruses) probably have a common evolutionary ancestor with the poxviruses, iridoviruses, asfarviruses, ascoviruses, and a recently discovered Marseillevirus. One issue that is perhaps not appreciated by the microbiology community is that large viruses, even ones classified in the same family, can differ significantly in morphology, lifestyle, and genome structure. This review focuses on some of these differences rather than provides extensive details about individual viruses.
PMCID: PMC2936810  PMID: 20690825
algal virus; phycodnavirus; Mimivirus; White spot shrimp virus; jumbo phage; NCLDVs
3.  The Envelope of Intracellular African Swine Fever Virus Is Composed of a Single Lipid Bilayer▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(16):7905-7912.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) is a member of a family of large nucleocytoplasmic DNA viruses that include poxviruses, iridoviruses, and phycodnaviruses. Previous ultrastructural studies of ASFV using chemical fixation and cryosectioning for electron microscopy (EM) have produced uncertainty over whether the inner viral envelope is composed of a single or double lipid bilayer. In this study we prepared ASFV-infected cells for EM using chemical fixation, cryosectioning, and high-pressure freezing. The appearance of the intracellular viral envelope was determined and compared to that of mitochondrial membranes in each sample. The best resolution of membrane structure was obtained with samples prepared by high-pressure freezing, and images suggested that the envelope of ASFV consisted of a single lipid membrane. It was less easy to interpret virus structure in chemically fixed or cryosectioned material, and in the latter case the virus envelope could be interpreted as having two membranes. Comparison of membrane widths in all three preparations indicated that the intracellular viral envelope of ASFV was not significantly different from the outer mitochondrial membrane (P < 0.05). The results support the hypothesis that the intracellular ASFV viral envelope is composed of a single lipid bilayer.
PMCID: PMC2519565  PMID: 18550658
4.  Mimiviridae: clusters of orthologous genes, reconstruction of gene repertoire evolution and proposed expansion of the giant virus family 
Virology Journal  2013;10:106.
The family Mimiviridae belongs to the large monophyletic group of Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDV; proposed order Megavirales) and encompasses giant viruses infecting amoeba and probably other unicellular eukaryotes. The recent discovery of the Cafeteria roenbergensis virus (CroV), a distant relative of the prototype mimiviruses, led to a substantial expansion of the genetic variance within the family Mimiviridae. In the light of these findings, a reassessment of the relationships between the mimiviruses and other NCLDV and reconstruction of the evolution of giant virus genomes emerge as interesting and timely goals.
Database searches for the protein sequences encoded in the genomes of several viruses originally classified as members of the family Phycodnaviridae, in particular Organic Lake phycodnaviruses and Phaeocystis globosa viruses (OLPG), revealed a greater number of highly similar homologs in members of the Mimiviridae than in phycodnaviruses. We constructed a collection of 898 Clusters of Orthologous Genes for the putative expanded family Mimiviridae (MimiCOGs) and used these clusters for a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the genes that are conserved in most of the NCLDV. The topologies of the phylogenetic trees for these conserved viral genes strongly support the monophyly of the OLPG and the mimiviruses. The same tree topology was obtained by analysis of the phyletic patterns of conserved viral genes. We further employed the mimiCOGs to obtain a maximum likelihood reconstruction of the history of genes losses and gains among the giant viruses. The results reveal massive gene gain in the mimivirus branch and modest gene gain in the OLPG branch.
These phylogenomic results reported here suggest a substantial expansion of the family Mimiviridae. The proposed expanded family encompasses a greater diversity of viruses including a group of viruses with much smaller genomes than those of the original members of the Mimiviridae. If the OLPG group is included in an expanded family Mimiviridae, it becomes the only family of giant viruses currently shown to host virophages. The mimiCOGs are expected to become a key resource for phylogenomics of giant viruses.
PMCID: PMC3620924  PMID: 23557328
5.  Phycodnavirus Potassium Ion Channel Proteins Question the Virus Molecular Piracy Hypothesis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38826.
Phycodnaviruses are large dsDNA, algal-infecting viruses that encode many genes with homologs in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Among the viral gene products are the smallest proteins known to form functional K+ channels. To determine if these viral K+ channels are the product of molecular piracy from their hosts, we compared the sequences of the K+ channel pore modules from seven phycodnaviruses to the K+ channels from Chlorella variabilis and Ectocarpus siliculosus, whose genomes have recently been sequenced. C. variabilis is the host for two of the viruses PBCV-1 and NY-2A and E. siliculosus is the host for the virus EsV-1. Systematic phylogenetic analyses consistently indicate that the viral K+ channels are not related to any lineage of the host channel homologs and that they are more closely related to each other than to their host homologs. A consensus sequence of the viral channels resembles a protein of unknown function from a proteobacterium. However, the bacterial protein lacks the consensus motif of all K+ channels and it does not form a functional channel in yeast, suggesting that the viral channels did not come from a proteobacterium. Collectively, our results indicate that the viruses did not acquire their K+ channel-encoding genes from their current algal hosts by gene transfer; thus alternative explanations are required. One possibility is that the viral genes arose from ancient organisms, which served as their hosts before the viruses developed their current host specificity. Alternatively the viral proteins could be the origin of K+ channels in algae and perhaps even all cellular organisms.
PMCID: PMC3369850  PMID: 22685610
6.  Pandoraviruses are highly derived phycodnaviruses 
Biology Direct  2013;8:25.
The recently discovered Pandoraviruses are by far the largest viruses known, with their 2 megabase genomes exceeding in size the genomes of numerous bacteria and archaea. Pandoraviruses show a distant relationship with other nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV) of eukaryotes, lack some of the NCLDV core genes and in particular do not appear to be specifically related to the other, better characterized family of giant viruses, the Mimiviridae. Here we report phylogenetic analysis of 6 core NCLDV genes that confidently places Pandoraviruses within the family Phycodnaviridae, with an apparent specific affinity with Coccolithoviruses. We conclude that, despite their many unusual characteristics, Pandoraviruses are highly derived phycodnaviruses. These findings imply that giant viruses have independently evolved from smaller NCLDV on at least two occasions.
This article was reviewed by Patrick Forterre and Lakshminarayan Iyer. For the full reviews, see the Reviewers’ reports section.
PMCID: PMC3924356  PMID: 24148757
7.  The Genomic Diversity and Phylogenetic Relationship in the Family Iridoviridae 
Viruses  2010;2(7):1458-1475.
The Iridoviridae family are large viruses (∼120–200 nm) that contain a linear double-stranded DNA genome. The genomic size of Iridoviridae family members range from 105,903 bases encoding 97 open reading frames (ORFs) for frog virus 3 to 212,482 bases encoding 211 ORFs for Chilo iridescent virus. The family Iridoviridae is currently subdivided into five genera: Chloriridovirus, Iridovirus, Lymphocystivirus, Megalocytivirus, and Ranavirus. Iridoviruses have been found to infect invertebrates and poikilothermic vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, and fish. With such a diverse array of hosts, there is great diversity in gene content between different genera. To understand the origin of iridoviruses, we explored the phylogenetic relationship between individual iridoviruses and defined the core-set of genes shared by all members of the family. In order to further explore the evolutionary relationship between the Iridoviridae family repetitive sequences were identified and compared. Each genome was found to contain a set of unique repetitive sequences that could be used in future virus identification. Repeats common to more than one virus were also identified and changes in copy number between these repeats may provide a simple method to differentiate between very closely related virus strains. The results of this paper will be useful in identifying new iridoviruses and determining their relationship to other members of the family.
PMCID: PMC3185713  PMID: 21994690
Iridoviridae; evolution; repetitive sequences
8.  Base-By-Base version 2: single nucleotide-level analysis of whole viral genome alignments 
Base-By-Base is a Java-based multiple sequence alignment editor. It is capable of working with protein and DNA molecules, but many of its unique features relate to the manipulation of the genomes of large DNA viruses such as poxviruses, herpesviruses, baculoviruses and asfarviruses (1-400 kb). The tool was built to serve as a platform for comparative genomics at the level of individual nucleotides.
In version 2, BBB-v2, of Base-By-Base we have added a series of new features aimed at providing the bench virologist with a better platform to view, annotate and analyze these complex genomes. Although a poxvirus genome, for example, may be less than 200 kb, it probably encodes close to 200 proteins using multiple classes of promoters with frequent overlapping of promoters and coding sequences and even some overlapping of genes. The new features allow users to 1) add primer annotations or other data sets in batch mode, 2) export differences between sequences to other genome browsers, 3) compare multiple genomes at a single nucleotide level of detail, 4) create new alignments from subsets/subsequences of a very large master alignment and 5) allow display of summaries of deep RNA sequencing data sets on a genome sequence.
BBB-v2 significantly improves the ability of virologists to work with genome sequences and provides a platform with which they can use a multiple sequence alignment as the basis for their own editable documents. Also, a .bbb document, with a variety of annotations in addition to the basic coding regions, can be shared among collaborators or made available to an entire research community. The program is available via using Java Web Start and is platform independent; the Java 1.5 virtual machine is required.
PMCID: PMC3348662  PMID: 22587754
9.  Viruses and viruslike particles of eukaryotic algae. 
Microbiological Reviews  1991;55(4):586-620.
Until recently there was little interest or information on viruses and viruslike particles of eukaryotic algae. However, this situation is changing. In the past decade many large double-stranded DNA-containing viruses that infect two culturable, unicellular, eukaryotic green algae have been discovered. These viruses can be produced in large quantities, assayed by plaque formation, and analyzed by standard bacteriophage techniques. The viruses are structurally similar to animal iridoviruses, their genomes are similar to but larger (greater than 300 kbp) than that of poxviruses, and their infection process resembles that of bacteriophages. Some of the viruses have DNAs with low levels of methylated bases, whereas others have DNAs with high concentrations of 5-methylcytosine and N6-methyladenine. Virus-encoded DNA methyltransferases are associated with the methylation and are accompanied by virus-encoded DNA site-specific (restriction) endonucleases. Some of these enzymes have sequence specificities identical to those of known bacterial enzymes, and others have previously unrecognized specificities. A separate rod-shaped RNA-containing algal virus has structural and nucleotide sequence affinities to higher plant viruses. Quite recently, viruses have been associated with rapid changes in marine algal populations. In the next decade we envision the discovery of new algal viruses, clarification of their role in various ecosystems, discovery of commercially useful genes in these viruses, and exploitation of algal virus genetic elements in plant and algal biotechnology.
PMCID: PMC372839  PMID: 1779928
10.  Phylogenetic evidence for extensive lateral acquisition of cellular genes by Nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses 
Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA viruses (NCLDV), a diverse group that infects a wide range of eukaryotic hosts, exhibit a large heterogeneity in genome size (between 100 kb and 1.2 Mb) but have been suggested to form a monophyletic group on the basis of a small subset of approximately 30 conserved genes. NCLDV were proposed to have evolved by simplification from cellular organism although some of the giant NCLDV have clearly grown by gene accretion from a bacterial origin.
We demonstrate here that many NCLDV lineages appear to have undergone frequent gene exchange in two different ways. Viruses which infect protists directly (Mimivirus) or algae which exist as intracellular protists symbionts (Phycodnaviruses) acquire genes from a bacterial source. Metazoan viruses such as the Poxviruses show a predominant acquisition of host genes. In both cases, the laterally acquired genes show a strong tendency to be positioned at the tip of the genome. Surprisingly, several core genes believed to be ancestral in the family appear to have undergone lateral gene transfers, suggesting that the NCLDV ancestor might have had a smaller genome than previously believed. Moreover, our data show that the larger the genome, the higher is the number of laterally acquired genes. This pattern is incompatible with a genome reduction from a cellular ancestor.
We propose that the NCLDV viruses have evolved by significant growth of a simple DNA virus by gene acquisition from cellular sources.
PMCID: PMC2607284  PMID: 19036122
11.  Proteorhodopsin genes in giant viruses 
Biology Direct  2012;7:34.
Viruses with large genomes encode numerous proteins that do not directly participate in virus biogenesis but rather modify key functional systems of infected cells. We report that a distinct group of giant viruses infecting unicellular eukaryotes that includes Organic Lake Phycodnaviruses and Phaeocystis globosa virus encode predicted proteorhodopsins that have not been previously detected in viruses. Search of metagenomic sequence data shows that putative viral proteorhodopsins are extremely abundant in marine environments. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that giant viruses acquired proteorhodopsins via horizontal gene transfer from proteorhodopsin-encoding protists although the actual donor(s) could not be presently identified. The pattern of conservation of the predicted functionally important amino acid residues suggests that viral proteorhodopsin homologs function as sensory rhodopsins. We hypothesize that viral rhodopsins modulate light-dependent signaling, in particular phototaxis, in infected protists.
This article was reviewed by Igor B. Zhulin and Laksminarayan M. Iyer. For the full reviews, see the Reviewers’ reports section.
PMCID: PMC3500653  PMID: 23036091
12.  African Swine Fever Virus Is Wrapped by the Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(3):2373-2387.
African swine fever (ASF) virus is a large DNA virus that shares the striking icosahedral symmetry of iridoviruses and the genomic organization of poxviruses. Both groups of viruses have a complex envelope structure. In this study, the mechanism of formation of the inner envelope of ASF virus was investigated. Examination of thin cryosections by electron microscopy showed two internal membranes in mature intracellular virions and all structural intermediates. These membranes were in continuity with intracellular membrane compartments, suggesting that the virus gained two membranes from intracellular membrane cisternae. Immunogold electron microscopy showed the viral structural protein p17 and resident membrane proteins of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) within virus assembly sites, virus assembly intermediates, and mature virions. Resident ER proteins were also detected by Western blotting of isolated virions. The data suggested the ASF virus was wrapped by the ER. Analysis of the published sequence of ASF virus (R. J. Yanez et al., Virology 208:249–278, 1995) revealed a reading frame, XP124L, that encoded a protein predicted to translocate into the lumen of the ER. Pulse-chase immunoprecipitation and glycosylation analysis of pXP124L, the product of the XP124L gene, showed that pXP124L was retained in the ER lumen after synthesis. When analyzed by immunogold electron microscopy, pXP124L localized to virus assembly intermediates and fully assembled virions. Western blot analysis detected pXP124L in virions isolated from Percoll gradients. The packaging of pXP124L from the lumen of the ER into the virion is consistent with ASF virus being wrapped by ER cisternae: a mechanism which explains the presence of two membranes in the viral envelope.
PMCID: PMC109537  PMID: 9499098
13.  Evolution of DNA ligases of Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA viruses of eukaryotes: a case of hidden complexity 
Biology Direct  2009;4:51.
Eukaryotic Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDV) encode most if not all of the enzymes involved in their DNA replication. It has been inferred that genes for these enzymes were already present in the last common ancestor of the NCLDV. However, the details of the evolution of these genes that bear on the complexity of the putative ancestral NCLDV and on the evolutionary relationships between viruses and their hosts are not well understood.
Phylogenetic analysis of the ATP-dependent and NAD-dependent DNA ligases encoded by the NCLDV reveals an unexpectedly complex evolutionary history. The NAD-dependent ligases are encoded only by a minority of NCLDV (including mimiviruses, some iridoviruses and entomopoxviruses) but phylogenetic analysis clearly indicated that all viral NAD-dependent ligases are monophyletic. Combined with the topology of the NCLDV tree derived by consensus of trees for universally conserved genes suggests that this enzyme was represented in the ancestral NCLDV. Phylogenetic analysis of ATP-dependent ligases that are encoded by chordopoxviruses, most of the phycodnaviruses and Marseillevirus failed to demonstrate monophyly and instead revealed an unexpectedly complex evolutionary trajectory. The ligases of the majority of phycodnaviruses and Marseillevirus seem to have evolved from bacteriophage or bacterial homologs; the ligase of one phycodnavirus, Emiliana huxlei virus, belongs to the eukaryotic DNA ligase I branch; and ligases of chordopoxviruses unequivocally cluster with eukaryotic DNA ligase III.
Examination of phyletic patterns and phylogenetic analysis of DNA ligases of the NCLDV suggest that the common ancestor of the extant NCLDV encoded an NAD-dependent ligase that most likely was acquired from a bacteriophage at the early stages of evolution of eukaryotes. By contrast, ATP-dependent ligases from different prokaryotic and eukaryotic sources displaced the ancestral NAD-dependent ligase at different stages of subsequent evolution. These findings emphasize complex routes of viral evolution that become apparent through detailed phylogenomic analysis but not necessarily in reconstructions based on phyletic patterns of genes.
This article was reviewed by: Patrick Forterre, George V. Shpakovski, and Igor B. Zhulin.
PMCID: PMC2806865  PMID: 20021668
14.  Genomic and Proteomic Analysis of Invertebrate Iridovirus Type 9 ▿† 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(15):7900-7911.
Iridoviruses (IV) are nuclear cytoplasmic large DNA viruses that are receiving increasing attention as sublethal pathogens of a range of insects. Invertebrate iridovirus type 9 (IIV-9; Wiseana iridovirus) is a member of the major phylogenetic group of iridoviruses for which there is very limited genomic and proteomic information. The genome is 205,791 bp, has a G+C content of 31%, and contains 191 predicted genes, with approximately 20% of its repeat sequences being located predominantly within coding regions. The repeated sequences include 11 proteins with helix-turn-helix motifs and genes encoding related tandem repeat amino acid sequences. Of the 191 proteins encoded by IIV-9, 108 are most closely related to orthologs in IIV-3 (Chloriridovirus genus), and 114 of the 126 IIV-3 genes have orthologs in IIV-9. In contrast, only 97 of 211 IIV-6 genes have orthologs in IIV-9. There is almost no conservation of gene order between IIV-3, IIV-6, and IIV-9. Phylogenetic analysis using a concatenated sequence of 26 core IV genes confirms that IIV-3 is more closely related to IIV-9 than to IIV-6, despite being from a different genus of the Iridoviridae. An interaction between IIV and small RNA regulatory systems is supported by the prediction of seven putative microRNA (miRNA) sequences combined with XRN exonuclease, RNase III, and double-stranded RNA binding activities encoded on the genome. Proteomic analysis of IIV-9 identified 64 proteins in the virus particle and, when combined with infected cell analysis, confirmed the expression of 94 viral proteins. This study provides the first full-genome and consequent proteomic analysis of group II IIV.
PMCID: PMC3147941  PMID: 21632757
15.  Eukaryotic large nucleo-cytoplasmic DNA viruses: Clusters of orthologous genes and reconstruction of viral genome evolution 
Virology Journal  2009;6:223.
The Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDV) comprise an apparently monophyletic class of viruses that infect a broad variety of eukaryotic hosts. Recent progress in isolation of new viruses and genome sequencing resulted in a substantial expansion of the NCLDV diversity, resulting in additional opportunities for comparative genomic analysis, and a demand for a comprehensive classification of viral genes.
A comprehensive comparison of the protein sequences encoded in the genomes of 45 NCLDV belonging to 6 families was performed in order to delineate cluster of orthologous viral genes. Using previously developed computational methods for orthology identification, 1445 Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Virus Orthologous Groups (NCVOGs) were identified of which 177 are represented in more than one NCLDV family. The NCVOGs were manually curated and annotated and can be used as a computational platform for functional annotation and evolutionary analysis of new NCLDV genomes. A maximum-likelihood reconstruction of the NCLDV evolution yielded a set of 47 conserved genes that were probably present in the genome of the common ancestor of this class of eukaryotic viruses. This reconstructed ancestral gene set is robust to the parameters of the reconstruction procedure and so is likely to accurately reflect the gene core of the ancestral NCLDV, indicating that this virus encoded a complex machinery of replication, expression and morphogenesis that made it relatively independent from host cell functions.
The NCVOGs are a flexible and expandable platform for genome analysis and functional annotation of newly characterized NCLDV. Evolutionary reconstructions employing NCVOGs point to complex ancestral viruses.
PMCID: PMC2806869  PMID: 20017929
16.  The Phycodnaviridae: The Story of How Tiny Giants Rule the World 
The family Phycodnaviridae encompasses a diverse and rapidly expanding collection of large icosahedral, dsDNA viruses that infect algae. These lytic and lysogenic viruses have genomes ranging from 160 to 560 kb. The family consists of six genera based initially on host range and supported by sequence comparisons. The family is monophyletic with branches for each genus, but the phycodnaviruses have evolutionary roots that connect them with several other families of large DNA viruses, referred to as the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV).
PMCID: PMC2908299  PMID: 19216434
17.  Comparative genomic analysis of the family Iridoviridae: re-annotating and defining the core set of iridovirus genes 
Virology Journal  2007;4:11.
Members of the family Iridoviridae can cause severe diseases resulting in significant economic and environmental losses. Very little is known about how iridoviruses cause disease in their host. In the present study, we describe the re-analysis of the Iridoviridae family of complex DNA viruses using a variety of comparative genomic tools to yield a greater consensus among the annotated sequences of its members.
A series of genomic sequence comparisons were made among, and between the Ranavirus and Megalocytivirus genera in order to identify novel conserved ORFs. Of these two genera, the Megalocytivirus genomes required the greatest number of altered annotations. Prior to our re-analysis, the Megalocytivirus species orange-spotted grouper iridovirus and rock bream iridovirus shared 99% sequence identity, but only 82 out of 118 potential ORFs were annotated; in contrast, we predict that these species share an identical complement of genes. These annotation changes allowed the redefinition of the group of core genes shared by all iridoviruses. Seven new core genes were identified, bringing the total number to 26.
Our re-analysis of genomes within the Iridoviridae family provides a unifying framework to understand the biology of these viruses. Further re-defining the core set of iridovirus genes will continue to lead us to a better understanding of the phylogenetic relationships between individual iridoviruses as well as giving us a much deeper understanding of iridovirus replication. In addition, this analysis will provide a better framework for characterizing and annotating currently unclassified iridoviruses.
PMCID: PMC1783846  PMID: 17239238
18.  Development of DNA diagnostic methods for the detection of new fish iridoviral diseases 
Cytotechnology  1997;23(1-3):211-220.
A new disease of epidemic proportions caused by fish viruses within the Iridoviridae family inflicts serious damage on red sea breams (Pagrus major) and striped jack (Caranx delicatissimus) populations grown in aquacultures in Japan. A partial segment of the fish iridoviral DNA was directly amplified using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with synthetic primers designed from well conserved nucleotide sequences between the frog virus 3 (Ranavirus) and the silkworm iridescent virus type 6. The deduced amino acid sequence from the nucleotide sequence of the PCR fragment demonstrates a high correlation with a partial sequence from the frog virus 3. Using the PCR method with specific primers, we could detect three of four different known types of fish iridoviruses in diseased fishes. To construct more reliable detection methods specific for this viral family, DNA fragments which can specifically hybridize with all of the four known iridoviridae viral DNAs were screened from the genomic library of one iridoviridae strain. The hybridization assay, using a specific fragment which contains regions which are highly homologous with a characterized partial sequence from the frog virus 3, proved to be a reliable diagnostic tool for fish iridoviral diseases.
PMCID: PMC3449874  PMID: 9094219
fish iridovirus; PCR diagnosis; hybridization assay
19.  Vaccinia Virus Infection & Temporal Analysis of Virus Gene Expression: Part 1 
The family Poxviridae consists of large double-stranded DNA containing viruses that replicate exclusively in the cytoplasm of infected cells. Members of the orthopox genus include variola, the causative agent of human small pox, monkeypox, and vaccinia (VAC), the prototypic member of the virus family. Within the relatively large (~ 200 kb) vaccinia genome, three classes of genes are encoded: early, intermediate, and late. While all three classes are transcribed by virally-encoded RNA polymerases, each class serves a different function in the life cycle of the virus. Poxviruses utilize multiple strategies for modulation of the host cellular environment during infection. In order to understand regulation of both host and virus gene expression, we have utilized genome-wide approaches to analyze transcript abundance from both virus and host cells. Here, we demonstrate time course infections of HeLa cells with Vaccinia virus and sampling RNA at several time points post-infection. Both host and viral total RNA is isolated and amplified for hybridization to microarrays for analysis of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2791082  PMID: 19488021
20.  Vaccinia Virus Infection & Temporal Analysis of Virus Gene Expression: Part 2 
The family Poxviridae consists of large double-stranded DNA containing viruses that replicate exclusively in the cytoplasm of infected cells. Members of the orthopox genus include variola, the causative agent of human small pox, monkeypox, and vaccinia (VAC), the prototypic member of the virus family. Within the relatively large (~ 200 kb) vaccinia genome, three classes of genes are encoded: early, intermediate, and late. While all three classes are transcribed by virally-encoded RNA polymerases, each class serves a different function in the life cycle of the virus. Poxviruses utilize multiple strategies for modulation of the host cellular environment during infection. In order to understand regulation of both host and virus gene expression, we have utilized genome-wide approaches to analyze transcript abundance from both virus and host cells. Here, we demonstrate time course infections of HeLa cells with Vaccinia virus and sampling RNA at several time points post-infection. Both host and viral total RNA is isolated and amplified for hybridization to microarrays for analysis of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2791083  PMID: 19363464
21.  Vaccinia Virus Infection & Temporal Analysis of Virus Gene Expression: Part 3 
The family Poxviridae consists of large double-stranded DNA containing viruses that replicate exclusively in the cytoplasm of infected cells. Members of the orthopox genus include variola, the causative agent of human small pox, monkeypox, and vaccinia (VAC), the prototypic member of the virus family. Within the relatively large (~ 200 kb) vaccinia genome, three classes of genes are encoded: early, intermediate, and late. While all three classes are transcribed by virally-encoded RNA polymerases, each class serves a different function in the life cycle of the virus. Poxviruses utilize multiple strategies for modulation of the host cellular environment during infection. In order to understand regulation of both host and virus gene expression, we have utilized genome-wide approaches to analyze transcript abundance from both virus and host cells. Here, we demonstrate time course infections of HeLa cells with Vaccinia virus and sampling RNA at several time points post-infection. Both host and viral total RNA is isolated and amplified for hybridization to microarrays for analysis of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2791084  PMID: 19365326
22.  Cellular LITAF Interacts with Frog Virus 3 75L Protein and Alters Its Subcellular Localization 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(2):716-723.
Iridoviruses are a family of large double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses that are composed of 5 genera, including the Lymphocystivirus, Ranavirus, Megalocytivirus, Iridovirus, and Chloriridovirus genera. The frog virus 3 (FV3) 75L gene is a nonessential gene that is highly conserved throughout the members of the Ranavirus genus but is not found in other iridoviruses. FV3 75L shows high sequence similarity to a conserved domain found in the C terminus of LITAF, a small cellular protein with unknown function. Here we show that FV3 75L localizes to early endosomes, while LITAF localizes to late endosomes/lysosomes. Interestingly, when FV3 75L and LITAF are cotransfected into cells, LITAF can alter the subcellular localization of FV3 75L to late endosomes/lysosomes, where FV3 75L then colocalizes with LITAF. In addition, we demonstrated that virally produced 75L colocalizes with LITAF. We confirmed a physical interaction between LITAF and FV3 75L but found that this interaction was not mediated by two PPXY motifs in the N terminus of LITAF. Mutation of two PPXY motifs in LITAF did not affect the colocalization of LITAF and FV3 75L but did change the location of the two proteins from late endosomes/lysosomes to early endosomes.
PMCID: PMC3554103  PMID: 23097445
23.  A Cladistic Approach for the Classification of Oligotrichid Ciliates (Ciliophora: Spirotricha) 
Acta protozoologica  2004;43(3):201-217.
Currently, gene sequence genealogies of the Oligotrichea Bütschli, 1889 comprise only few species. Therefore, a cladistic approach, especially to the Oligotrichida, was made, applying Hennig's method and computer programs. Twenty-three characters were selected and discussed, i.e., the morphology of the oral apparatus (five characters), the somatic ciliature (eight characters), special organelles (four characters), and ontogenetic particulars (six characters). Nine of these characters developed convergently twice. Although several new features were included into the analyses, the cladograms match other morphological trees in the monophyly of the Oligotrichea, Halteriia, Oligotrichia, Oligotrichida, and Choreotrichida. The main synapomorphies of the Oligotrichea are the enantiotropic division mode and the de novo-origin of the undulating membranes. Although the sister group relationship of the Halteriia and the Oligotrichia contradicts results obtained by gene sequence analyses, no morphologic, ontogenetic or ultrastructural features were found, which support a branching of Halteria grandinella within the Stichotrichida. The cladistic approaches suggest paraphyly of the family Strombidiidae probably due to the scarce knowledge. A revised classification of the Oligotrichea is suggested, including all sufficiently known families and genera.
PMCID: PMC2854820  PMID: 20396404
classification; computer programs; Halteria problem; Hennig's cladistic method; taxonomy
24.  Two distinct SSB protein families in nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(24):3186-3190.
Motivation: Eukaryote-infecting nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs) feature some of the largest genomes in the viral world. These viruses typically do not strongly depend on the host DNA replication systems. In line with this observation, a number of essential DNA replication proteins, such as DNA polymerases, primases, helicases and ligases, have been identified in the NCLDVs. One other ubiquitous component of DNA replisomes is the single-stranded DNA-binding (SSB) protein. Intriguingly, no NCLDV homologs of canonical OB-fold-containing SSB proteins had previously been detected. Only in poxviruses, one of seven NCLDV families, I3 was identified as the SSB protein. However, whether I3 is related to any known protein structure has not yet been established.
Results: Here, we addressed the case of ‘missing’ canonical SSB proteins in the NCLDVs and also probed evolutionary origins of the I3 family. Using advanced computational methods, in four NCLDV families, we detected homologs of the bacteriophage T7 SSB protein (gp2.5). We found the properties of these homologs to be consistent with the SSB function. Moreover, we implicated specific residues in single-stranded DNA binding. At the same time, we found no evolutionary link between the T7 gp2.5-like NCLDV SSB homologs and the poxviral SSB protein (I3). Instead, we identified a distant relationship between I3 and small protein B (SmpB), a bacterial RNA-binding protein. Thus, apparently, the NCLDVs have the two major distinct sets of SSB proteins having bacteriophage and bacterial origins, respectively.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3519460  PMID: 23097418
25.  Phenotypic Diversity of Infectious Red Sea Bream Iridovirus Isolates from Cultured Fish in Japan▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(11):3535-3541.
Megalocytivirus is causing economically serious mass mortality by infecting fish in and around the Pacific region of Asia. The recent emergence of many new iridoviruses has drawn attention to the marked taxonomic variation within this virus family. Most studies of these viruses have not included extensive study of these emergent species. We explored the emergence of red sea bream iridovirus (RSIV) on a fish farm in Japan, and we specifically endeavored to quantify genetic and phenotypic differences between RSIV isolates using in vitro and in vivo methods. The three isolates had identical major capsid protein sequences, and they were closely related to Korean RSIV isolates. In vitro studies revealed that the isolates differed in replication rate, which was determined by real-time quantitative PCR of viral genomes in infected cells and cell culture supernatant, and in cell viability, estimated by the MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay for infected cells. In vivo studies showed that the isolates exhibit different virulence characteristics: infected red sea bream showed either acute death or subacute death according to infection with different isolates. Significant differences were seen in the antigenicity of isolates by a formalin-inactivated vaccine test. These results revealed that variant characteristics exist in the same phylogenetic location in emergent iridoviruses. We suggest that this strain variation would expand the host range in iridoviral epidemics.
PMCID: PMC2687316  PMID: 19346349

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