Marine mimivirus relatives are probably large algal viruses.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus is the largest known ds-DNA virus and its 1.2 Mb-genome sequence has revealed many unique features. Mimivirus occupies an independent lineage among eukaryotic viruses and its known hosts include only species from the Acanthamoeba genus. The existence of mimivirus relatives was first suggested by the analysis of the Sargasso Sea metagenomic data. RESULTS: We now further demonstrate the presence of numerous "mimivirus-like" sequences using a larger marine metagenomic data set. We also show that the DNA polymerase sequences from three algal viruses (CeV01, PpV01, PoV01) infecting different marine algal species (Chrysochromulina ericina, Phaeocystis pouchetii, Pyramimonas orientalis) are very closely related to their homolog in mimivirus. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the numerous mimivirus-related sequences identified in marine environments are likely to originate from diverse large DNA viruses infecting phytoplankton. Micro-algae thus constitute a new category of potential hosts in which to look for new species of Mimiviridae.
Project description:Algal viruses are considered ecologically important by affecting host population dynamics and nutrient flow in aquatic food webs. Members of the family Phycodnaviridae are also interesting due to their extraordinary genome size. Few algal viruses in the Phycodnaviridae family have been sequenced, and those that have been have few genes in common and low gene homology. It has hence been difficult to design general PCR primers that allow further studies of their ecology and diversity. In this study, we screened the nine type I core genes of the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses for sequences suitable for designing a general set of primers. Sequence comparison between members of the Phycodnaviridae family, including three partly sequenced viruses infecting the prymnesiophyte Pyramimonas orientalis and the haptophytes Phaeocystis pouchetii and Chrysochromulina ericina (Pyramimonas orientalis virus 01B [PoV-01B], Phaeocystis pouchetii virus 01 [PpV-01], and Chrysochromulina ericina virus 01B [CeV-01B], respectively), revealed eight conserved regions in the major capsid protein (MCP). Two of these regions also showed conservation at the nucleotide level, and this allowed us to design degenerate PCR primers. The primers produced 347- to 518-bp amplicons when applied to lysates from algal viruses kept in culture and from natural viral communities. The aim of this work was to use the MCP as a proxy to infer phylogenetic relationships and genetic diversity among members of the Phycodnaviridae family and to determine the occurrence and diversity of this gene in natural viral communities. The results support the current legitimate genera in the Phycodnaviridae based on alga host species. However, while placing the mimivirus in close proximity to the type species, PBCV-1, of Phycodnaviridae along with the three new viruses assigned to the family (PoV-01B, PpV-01, and CeV-01B), the results also indicate that the coccolithoviruses and phaeoviruses are more diverged from this group. Phylogenetic analysis of amplicons from virus assemblages from Norwegian coastal waters as well as from isolated algal viruses revealed a cluster of viruses infecting members of the prymnesiophyte and prasinophyte alga divisions. Other distinct clusters were also identified, containing amplicons from this study as well as sequences retrieved from the Sargasso Sea metagenome. This shows that closely related sequences of this family are present at geographically distant locations within the marine environment.
Project description:MutS proteins are ubiquitous in cellular organisms and have important roles in DNA mismatch repair or recombination. In the virus world, the amoeba-infecting Mimivirus, as well as the recently sequenced Cafeteria roenbergensis virus are known to encode a MutS related to the homologs found in octocorals and ?-proteobacteria. To explore the presence of MutS proteins in other viral genomes, we performed a genomic survey of four giant viruses ('giruses') (Pyramimonas orientalis virus (PoV), Phaeocystis pouchetii virus (PpV), Chrysochromulina ericina virus (CeV) and Heterocapsa circularisquama DNA virus (HcDNAV)) that infect unicellular marine algae. Our analysis revealed the presence of a close homolog of Mimivirus MutS in all the analyzed giruses. These viral homologs possess a specific domain structure, including a C-terminal HNH-endonuclease domain, defining the new MutS7 subfamily. We confirmed the presence of conserved mismatch recognition residues in all members of the MutS7 subfamily, suggesting their role in DNA mismatch repair rather than DNA recombination. PoV and PpV were found to contain an additional type of MutS, which we propose to call MutS8. The MutS8 proteins in PoV and PpV were found to be closely related to homologs from 'Candidatus Amoebophilus asiaticus', an obligate intracellular amoeba-symbiont belonging to the Bacteroidetes. Furthermore, our analysis revealed that MutS7 and MutS8 are abundant in marine microbial metagenomes and that a vast majority of these environmental sequences are likely of girus origin. Giruses thus seem to represent a major source of the underexplored diversity of the MutS family in the microbial world.
Project description:Since 1998, when Jim van Etten's team initiated its characterization, Paramecium bursaria Chlorella virus 1 (PBCV-1) had been the largest known DNA virus, both in terms of particle size and genome complexity. In 2003, the Acanthamoeba-infecting Mimivirus unexpectedly superseded PBCV-1, opening the era of giant viruses, i.e., with virions large enough to be visible by light microscopy and genomes encoding more proteins than many bacteria. During the following 15 years, the isolation of many Mimivirus relatives has made Mimiviridae one of the largest and most diverse families of eukaryotic viruses, most of which have been isolated from aquatic environments. Metagenomic studies of various ecosystems (including soils) suggest that many more remain to be isolated. As Mimiviridae members are found to infect an increasing range of phytoplankton species, their taxonomic position compared to the traditional Phycodnaviridae (i.e., etymologically "algal viruses") became a source of confusion in the literature. Following a quick historical review of the key discoveries that established the Mimiviridae family, we describe its current taxonomic structure and propose a set of operational criteria to help in the classification of future isolates.
Project description:We report the complete genome sequence of CeV-01B, a large double-stranded DNA virus infecting the unicellular marine phytoplankton Haptolina (formerly Chrysochromulina) ericina. CeV-01B and its closest relative Phaeocystis globosa virus define an emerging subclade of the Megaviridae family with smaller genomes and particles than the originally described giant Mimiviridae infecting Acanthamoeba.
Project description:Phycodnaviruses are widespread algae-infecting large dsDNA viruses and presently contain six genera: Chlorovirus, Prasinovirus, Prymnesiovirus, Phaeovirus, Coccolithovirus and Raphidovirus. The members in Prasinovirus are identified as marine viruses due to their marine algal hosts, while prasinovirus freshwater relatives remain rarely reported.Here we present the complete genomic sequence of a novel phycodnavirus, Dishui Lake Phycodnavirus 1 (DSLPV1), which was assembled from Dishui Lake metagenomic datasets. DSLPV1 harbors a linear genome of 181,035 bp in length (G + C content: 52.7%), with 227 predicted genes and 2 tRNA encoding regions. Both comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses indicate that the freshwater algal virus DSLPV1 is closely related to the members in Prasinovirus, a group of marine algae infecting viruses. In addition, a complete eukaryotic histone H3 variant was identified in the genome of DSLPV1, which is firstly detected in phycodnaviruses and contributes to understand the interaction between algal virus and its eukaryotic hosts.It is in a freshwater ecosystem that a novel Prasinovirus-related viral complete genomic sequence is discovered, which sheds new light on the evolution and diversity of the algae infecting Phycodnaviridae.
Project description:Mimivirus, a virus infecting Acanthamoeba, is the prototype of the Mimiviridae, the latest addition to the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses. The Mimivirus genome encodes close to 1000 proteins, many of them never before encountered in a virus, such as four amino-acyl tRNA synthetases. To explore the physiology of this exceptional virus and identify the genes involved in the building of its characteristic intracytoplasmic "virion factory," we coupled electron microscopy observations with the massively parallel pyrosequencing of the polyadenylated RNA fractions of Acanthamoeba castellanii cells at various time post-infection. We generated 633,346 reads, of which 322,904 correspond to Mimivirus transcripts. This first application of deep mRNA sequencing (454 Life Sciences [Roche] FLX) to a large DNA virus allowed the precise delineation of the 5' and 3' extremities of Mimivirus mRNAs and revealed 75 new transcripts including several noncoding RNAs. Mimivirus genes are expressed across a wide dynamic range, in a finely regulated manner broadly described by three main temporal classes: early, intermediate, and late. This RNA-seq study confirmed the AAAATTGA sequence as an early promoter element, as well as the presence of palindromes at most of the polyadenylation sites. It also revealed a new promoter element correlating with late gene expression, which is also prominent in Sputnik, the recently described Mimivirus "virophage." These results-validated genome-wide by the hybridization of total RNA extracted from infected Acanthamoeba cells on a tiling array (Agilent)--will constitute the foundation on which to build subsequent functional studies of the Mimivirus/Acanthamoeba system.
Project description:The viral nature of the first "giant virus," Mimivirus, was realized in 2003, 10 y after its initial isolation from the water of a cooling tower in Bradford, UK. Soon after its genome was sequenced, the mining of the Global Ocean Sampling environmental sequence database revealed that the closest relatives of Mimivirus, only known to infect Acanthamoeba, were to be found in the sea. These predicted marine Mimivirus relatives remained elusive until 2010, with the first genomic characterization of a virus infecting a heterotrophic unicellular eukaryote, the microflagellate grazer Cafeteria roenbergensis. The genome analysis of a virus (PgV) infecting the common unicellular algae Phaeocystis globosa now shows that it is a bona fide member of the Mimivirus family (i.e., the Megaviridae), extending the realm of these giant viruses to abundant blooming phytoplankton species. Despite its smaller genome size (460 kb encoding 434 proteins), PgV exhibits the most intriguing feature of the previously characterized Megaviridae: an associated virophage. However, the 19-kb virophage genome, devoid of a capsid gene, is packaged in the PgV particle and propagated as a "viral plasmid," the first ever described. The PgV genome also exhibits the duplication of "core genes," normally present as single copies and a putative new type of mobile element. In a DNA polymerase phylogeny including representatives of the three cellular domains, PgV and the other Megaviridae cluster into their own clade deeply branching between domains Archaea and Eukarya domains, thus exhibiting the topology of a fourth domain in the Tree of Life.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Viruses are ubiquitous and the most abundant biological entities in marine environments. Metagenomics studies are increasingly revealing the huge genetic diversity of marine viruses. In this study, we used a new approach--'phylogenetic mapping'--to obtain a comprehensive picture of the taxonomic distribution of large DNA viruses represented in the Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition metagenomic data set. RESULTS: Using DNA polymerase genes as a taxonomic marker, we identified 811 homologous sequences of likely viral origin. As expected, most of these sequences corresponded to phages. Interestingly, the second largest viral group corresponded to that containing mimivirus and three related algal viruses. We also identified several DNA polymerase homologs closely related to Asfarviridae, a viral family poorly represented among isolated viruses and, until now, limited to terrestrial animal hosts. Finally, our approach allowed the identification of a new combination of genes in 'viral-like' sequences. CONCLUSION: Albeit only recently discovered, giant viruses of the Mimiviridae family appear to constitute a diverse, quantitatively important and ubiquitous component of the population of large eukaryotic DNA viruses in the sea.
Project description:The mechanisms by which phytoplankton cope with stressors in the marine environment are neither fully characterized nor understood. As viruses are the most abundant entities in the global ocean and represent a strong top-down regulator of phytoplankton abundance and diversity, we sought to characterize the cellular response of two marine haptophytes to virus infection in order to gain more knowledge about the nature and diversity of microalgal responses to this chronic biotic stressor. We infected laboratory cultures of the haptophytes Haptolina ericina and Phaeocystis pouchetii with CeV-01B or PpV-01B dsDNA viruses, respectively, and assessed the extent to which host cellular responses resemble programmed cell death (PCD) through the activation of diagnostic molecular and biochemical markers. Pronounced DNA fragmentation and activation of cysteine aspartate-specific proteases (caspases) were only detected in virus-infected cultures of these phytoplankton. Inhibition of host caspase activity by addition of the pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk did not impair virus production in either host-virus system, differentiating it from the Emiliania huxleyi-Coccolithovirus model of haptophyte-virus interactions. Nonetheless, our findings point to a general conservation of PCD-like activation during virus infection in ecologically diverse haptophytes, with the subtle heterogeneity of cell death biochemical responses possibly exerting differential regulation on phytoplankton abundance and diversity.
Project description:Large dsDNA viruses are involved in the population control of many globally distributed species of eukaryotic phytoplankton and have a prominent role in bloom termination. The genus Phaeocystis (Haptophyta, Prymnesiophyceae) includes several high-biomass-forming phytoplankton species, such as Phaeocystis globosa, the blooms of which occur mostly in the coastal zone of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. Here, we report the 459,984-bp-long genome sequence of P. globosa virus strain PgV-16T, encoding 434 proteins and eight tRNAs and, thus, the largest fully sequenced genome to date among viruses infecting algae. Surprisingly, PgV-16T exhibits no phylogenetic affinity with other viruses infecting microalgae (e.g., phycodnaviruses), including those infecting Emiliania huxleyi, another ubiquitous bloom-forming haptophyte. Rather, PgV-16T belongs to an emerging clade (the Megaviridae) clustering the viruses endowed with the largest known genomes, including Megavirus, Mimivirus (both infecting acanthamoeba), and a virus infecting the marine microflagellate grazer Cafeteria roenbergensis. Seventy-five percent of the best matches of PgV-16T-predicted proteins correspond to two viruses [Organic Lake phycodnavirus (OLPV)1 and OLPV2] from a hypersaline lake in Antarctica (Organic Lake), the hosts of which are unknown. As for OLPVs and other Megaviridae, the PgV-16T sequence data revealed the presence of a virophage-like genome. However, no virophage particle was detected in infected P. globosa cultures. The presence of many genes found only in Megaviridae in its genome and the presence of an associated virophage strongly suggest that PgV-16T shares a common ancestry with the largest known dsDNA viruses, the host range of which already encompasses the earliest diverging branches of domain Eukarya.