Origin and Evolution of Eukaryotic Large Nucleo-Cytoplasmic DNA VirusesKoonin E.V. · Yutin N.
National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., USA
Eugene V. Koonin
National Center for Biotechnology Information
National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20894 (USA)
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Background/Aims: The nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV) constitute an apparently monophyletic group that consists of 6 families of viruses infecting a broad variety of eukaryotes. A comprehensive genome comparison and maximum-likelihood reconstruction of NCLDV evolution reveal a set of approximately 50 conserved genes that can be tentatively mapped to the genome of the common ancestor of this class of eukaryotic viruses. We address the origins and evolution of NCLDV. Results: Phylogenetic analysis indicates that some of the major clades of NCLDV infect diverse animals and protists, suggestive of early radiation of the NCLDV, possibly concomitant with eukaryogenesis. The core NCLDV genes seem to have originated from different sources including homologous genes of bacteriophages, bacteria and eukaryotes. These observations are compatible with a scenario of the origin of the NCLDV at an early stage of the evolution of eukaryotes through extensive mixing of genes from widely different genomes. Conclusions: The common ancestor of the NCLDV probably evolved from a bacteriophage as a result of recruitment of numerous eukaryotic and some bacterial genes, and concomitant loss of the majority of phage genes except for a small core of genes coding for proteins essential for virus genome replication and virion formation.
© 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel
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