A new family of hybrid virophages from an animal gut metagenome.
ABSTRACT: Search of metagenomics sequence databases for homologs of virophage capsid proteins resulted in the discovery of a new family of virophages in the sheep rumen metagenome. The genomes of the rumen virophages (RVP) encode a typical virophage major capsid protein, ATPase and protease combined with a Polinton-type, protein primed family B DNA polymerase. The RVP genomes appear to be linear molecules, with terminal inverted repeats. Thus, the RVP seem to represent virophage-Polinton hybrids that are likely capable of formation of infectious virions. Virion proteins of mimiviruses were detected in the same metagenomes as the RVP suggesting that the virophages of the new family parasitize on giant viruses that infect protist inhabitants of the rumen.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Recent advances of genomics and metagenomics reveal remarkable diversity of viruses and other selfish genetic elements. In particular, giant viruses have been shown to possess their own mobilomes that include virophages, small viruses that parasitize on giant viruses of the Mimiviridae family, and transpovirons, distinct linear plasmids. One of the virophages known as the Mavirus, a parasite of the giant Cafeteria roenbergensis virus, shares several genes with large eukaryotic self-replicating transposon of the Polinton (Maverick) family, and it has been proposed that the polintons evolved from a Mavirus-like ancestor. RESULTS: We performed a comprehensive phylogenomic analysis of the available genomes of virophages and traced the evolutionary connections between the virophages and other selfish genetic elements. The comparison of the gene composition and genome organization of the virophages reveals 6 conserved, core genes that are organized in partially conserved arrays. Phylogenetic analysis of those core virophage genes, for which a sufficient diversity of homologs outside the virophages was detected, including the maturation protease and the packaging ATPase, supports the monophyly of the virophages. The results of this analysis appear incompatible with the origin of polintons from a Mavirus-like agent but rather suggest that Mavirus evolved through recombination between a polinton and an unknown virus. Altogether, virophages, polintons, a distinct Tetrahymena transposable element Tlr1, transpovirons, adenoviruses, and some bacteriophages form a network of evolutionary relationships that is held together by overlapping sets of shared genes and appears to represent a distinct module in the vast total network of viruses and mobile elements. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the phylogenomic analysis of the virophages and related genetic elements are compatible with the concept of network-like evolution of the virus world and emphasize multiple evolutionary connections between bona fide viruses and other classes of capsid-less mobile elements.
Project description:Virophages are small dsDNA viruses that were first isolated in association with some giant viruses (GVs), and then found in metagenomics samples. They encode about 20?34 proteins. Some virophages share protein similarity with Maverick/Polinton transposons or are considered as a provirophage, whereas about half of the protein's repertoire remain of unknown function. In this review, we aim to highlight the current understanding of the biology of virophages, as well as their interactions with giant viruses and host cells. Additionally, the virophage proteomes were analyzed to find the functional domains that distinguish each virophage. This bioinformatics analysis will benefit further experimental investigations to understand the protein-protein interactions between virophages, giant viruses, and host cells.
Project description:The last decade has been marked by two eminent discoveries that have changed our perception of the virology field: The discovery of giant viruses and a distinct new class of viral agents that parasitize their viral factories, the virophages. Coculture and metagenomics have actively contributed to the expansion of the virophage family by isolating dozens of new members. This increase in the body of data on virophage not only revealed the diversity of the virophage group, but also the relevant ecological impact of these small viruses and their potential role in the dynamics of the microbial network. In addition, the isolation of virophages has led us to discover previously unknown features displayed by their host viruses and cells. In this review, we present an update of all the knowledge on the isolation, biology, genomics, and morphological features of the virophages, a decade after the discovery of their first member, the Sputnik virophage. We discuss their parasitic lifestyle as bona fide viruses of the giant virus factories, genetic parasites of their genomes, and then their role as a key component or target for some host defense mechanisms during the tripartite virophage-giant virus-host cell interaction. We also present the latest advances regarding their origin, classification, and definition that have been widely discussed.
Project description:Some giant viruses are ecological agents that are predicted to be involved in the top-down control of single-celled eukaryotic algae populations in aquatic ecosystems. Despite an increased interest in giant viruses since the discovery and characterization of Mimivirus and other viral giants, little is known about their physiology and ecology. In this study, we characterized the genome and functional potential of a giant virus that infects the freshwater haptophyte Chrysochromulina parva, originally isolated from Lake Ontario. This virus, CpV-BQ2, is a member of the nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) group and possesses a 437 kb genome encoding 503 ORFs with a GC content of 25%. Phylogenetic analyses of core NCLDV genes place CpV-BQ2 amongst the emerging group of algae-infecting Mimiviruses informally referred to as the "extended Mimiviridae," making it the first virus of this group to be isolated from a freshwater ecosystem. During genome analyses, we also captured and described the genomes of three distinct virophages that co-occurred with CpV-BQ2 and likely exploit CpV for their own replication. These virophages belong to the polinton-like viruses (PLV) group and encompass 19-23 predicted genes, including all of the core PLV genes as well as several genes implicated in genome modifications. We used the CpV-BQ2 and virophage reference sequences to recruit reads from available environmental metatranscriptomic data to estimate their activity in fresh waters. We observed moderate recruitment of both virus and virophage transcripts in samples obtained during Microcystis aeruginosa blooms in Lake Erie and Lake Tai, China in 2013, with a spike in activity in one sample. Virophage transcript abundance for two of the three isolates strongly correlated with that of the CpV-BQ2. Together, the results highlight the importance of giant viruses in the environment and establish a foundation for future research on the physiology and ecology CpV-BQ2 as a model system for algal Mimivirus dynamics in freshwaters.
Project description:Virophages, e.g., Sputnik, Mavirus, and Organic Lake virophage (OLV), are unusual parasites of giant double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses, yet little is known about their diversity. Here, we describe the global distribution, abundance, and genetic diversity of virophages based on analyzing and mapping comprehensive metagenomic databases. The results reveal a distinct abundance and worldwide distribution of virophages, involving almost all geographical zones and a variety of unique environments. These environments ranged from deep ocean to inland, iced to hydrothermal lakes, and human gut- to animal-associated habitats. Four complete virophage genomic sequences (Yellowstone Lake virophages [YSLVs]) were obtained, as was one nearly complete sequence (Ace Lake Mavirus [ALM]). The genomes obtained were 27,849 bp long with 26 predicted open reading frames (ORFs) (YSLV1), 23,184 bp with 21 ORFs (YSLV2), 27,050 bp with 23 ORFs (YSLV3), 28,306 bp with 34 ORFs (YSLV4), and 17,767 bp with 22 ORFs (ALM). The homologous counterparts of five genes, including putative FtsK-HerA family DNA packaging ATPase and genes encoding DNA helicase/primase, cysteine protease, major capsid protein (MCP), and minor capsid protein (mCP), were present in all virophages studied thus far. They also shared a conserved gene cluster comprising the two core genes of MCP and mCP. Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses showed that YSLVs, having a closer relationship to each other than to the other virophages, were more closely related to OLV than to Sputnik but distantly related to Mavirus and ALM. These findings indicate that virophages appear to be widespread and genetically diverse, with at least 3 major lineages.
Project description:Viral infection had not been observed for amoebae, until the Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus (APMV) was discovered in 2003. APMV belongs to the nucleocytoplasmatic large DNA virus (NCLDV) family and infects not only A. polyphaga, but also other professional phagocytes. Here, we review the Megavirales to give an overview of the current members of the Mimi- and Marseilleviridae families and their structural features during amoebal infection. We summarize the different steps of their infection cycle in A. polyphaga and Acanthamoeba castellani. Furthermore, we dive into the emerging field of virophages, which parasitize upon viral factories of the Megavirales family. The discovery of virophages in 2008 and research in recent years revealed an increasingly complex network of interactions between cell, giant virus, and virophage. Virophages seem to be highly abundant in the environment and occupy the same niches as the Mimiviridae and their hosts. Establishment of metagenomic and co-culture approaches rapidly increased the number of detected virophages over the recent years. Genetic interaction of cell and virophage might constitute a potent defense machinery against giant viruses and seems to be important for survival of the infected cell during mimivirus infections. Nonetheless, the molecular events during co-infection and the interactions of cell, giant virus, and virophage have not been elucidated, yet. However, the genetic interactions of these three, suggest an intricate, multilayered network during amoebal (co-)infections. Understanding these interactions could elucidate molecular events essential for proper viral factory activity and could implicate new ways of treating viruses that form viral factories.
Project description:Virophages replicate within viral factories inside the Acanthamoeba cytoplasm, and decrease the infectivity and replication of their associated giant viruses. Culture isolation and metagenome analyses have suggested that they are common in our environment. By screening metagenomic databases in search of amoebal viruses, we detected virophage-related sequences among sequences generated from the same non-aerated bioreactor metagenome as recently screened by another team for virophage capsid-encoding genes. We describe here the assembled partial genome of a virophage closely related to Zamilon, which infects Acanthamoeba with mimiviruses of lineages B and C but not A. Searches for sequences related to amoebal giant viruses, other Megavirales representatives and virophages were conducted using BLAST against this bioreactor metagenome (PRJNA73603). Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses were performed using sequences from previously identified virophages. A total of 72 metagenome contigs generated from the bioreactor were identified as best matching with sequences from Megavirales representatives, mostly Pithovirus sibericum, pandoraviruses and amoebal mimiviruses from three lineages A-C, as well as from virophages. In addition, a partial genome from a Zamilon-like virophage, we named Zamilon 2, was assembled. This genome has a size of 6716 base pairs, corresponding to 39% of the Zamilon genome, and comprises partial or full-length homologs for 15 Zamilon predicted open reading frames (ORFs). Mean nucleotide and amino acid identities for these 15 Zamilon 2 ORFs with their Zamilon counterparts were 89% (range, 81-96%) and 91% (range, 78-99%), respectively. Notably, these ORFs included two encoding a capsid protein and a packaging ATPase. Comparative genomics and phylogenetic analyses indicated that the partial genome was that of a new Zamilon-like virophage. Further studies are needed to gain better knowledge of the tropism and prevalence of virophages in our biosphere and in humans.
Project description:Virophages are small double-stranded DNA viruses that are parasites of giant DNA viruses that infect unicellular eukaryotes. Here we identify a novel group of virophages, named Dishui Lake virophages (DSLVs) that were discovered in Dishui Lake (DSL): an artificial freshwater lake in Shanghai, China. Based on PCR and metagenomic analysis, the complete genome of DSLV1 was found to be circular and 28,788 base pairs in length, with a G+C content 43.2%, and 28 predicted open reading frames (ORFs). Fifteen of the DSLV1 ORFs have sequence similarity to known virophages. Two DSLV1 ORFs exhibited sequence similarity to that of prasinoviruses (Phycodnaviridae) and chloroviruses (Phycodnaviridae), respectively, suggesting horizontal gene transfer occurred between these large algal DNA viruses and DSLV1. 46 other virophages-related contigs were also obtained, including six homologous major capsid protein (MCP) gene. Phylogenetic analysis of these MCPs showed that DSLVs are closely related to OLV (Organic Lake virophage) and YSLVs (Yellowstone Lake virophages), especially to YSLV3, except for YSLV7. These results indicate that freshwater ecotopes are the hotbed for discovering novel virophages as well as understanding their diversity and properties.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Virophages are small viruses with double-stranded DNA genomes that replicate along with giant viruses and co-infect eukaryotic cells. Due to the paucity of virophage reference genomes, a collective understanding of the global virophage diversity, distribution, and evolution is lacking. RESULTS:Here we screened a public collection of over 14,000 metagenomes using the virophage-specific major capsid protein (MCP) as "bait." We identified 44,221 assembled virophage sequences, of which 328 represent high-quality (complete or near-complete) genomes from diverse habitats including the human gut, plant rhizosphere, and terrestrial subsurface. Comparative genomic analysis confirmed the presence of four core genes in a conserved block. We used these genes to establish a revised virophage classification including 27 clades with consistent genome length, gene content, and habitat distribution. Moreover, for eight high-quality virophage genomes, we computationally predicted putative eukaryotic virus hosts. CONCLUSION:Overall, our approach has increased the number of known virophage genomes by 10-fold and revealed patterns of genome evolution and global virophage distribution. We anticipate that the expanded diversity presented here will provide the backbone for further virophage studies.
Project description:Virophages are small viruses that co-infect eukaryotic cells alongside giant viruses (Mimiviridae) and hijack their machinery to replicate. While two types of virophages have been isolated, their genomic diversity and ecology remain largely unknown. Here we use time series metagenomics to identify and study the dynamics of 25 uncultivated virophage populations, 17 of which represented by complete or near-complete genomes, in two North American freshwater lakes. Taxonomic analysis suggests that these freshwater virophages represent at least three new candidate genera. Ecologically, virophage populations are repeatedly detected over years and evolutionary stable, yet their distinct abundance profiles and gene content suggest that virophage genera occupy different ecological niches. Co-occurrence analyses reveal 11 virophages strongly associated with uncultivated Mimiviridae, and three associated with eukaryotes among the Dinophyceae, Rhizaria, Alveolata, and Cryptophyceae groups. Together, these findings significantly augment virophage databases, help refine virophage taxonomy, and establish baseline ecological hypotheses and tools to study virophages in nature.Virophages are recently-identified small viruses that infect larger viruses, yet their diversity and ecological roles are poorly understood. Here, Roux and colleagues present time series metagenomics data revealing new virophage genera and their putative ecological interactions in two freshwater lakes.