In-depth study of Mollivirus sibericum, a new 30,000-y-old giant virus infecting Acanthamoeba.
ABSTRACT: Acanthamoeba species are infected by the largest known DNA viruses. These include icosahedral Mimiviruses, amphora-shaped Pandoraviruses, and Pithovirus sibericum, the latter one isolated from 30,000-y-old permafrost. Mollivirus sibericum, a fourth type of giant virus, was isolated from the same permafrost sample. Its approximately spherical virion (0.6-µm diameter) encloses a 651-kb GC-rich genome encoding 523 proteins of which 64% are ORFans; 16% have their closest homolog in Pandoraviruses and 10% in Acanthamoeba castellanii probably through horizontal gene transfer. The Mollivirus nucleocytoplasmic replication cycle was analyzed using a combination of "omic" approaches that revealed how the virus highjacks its host machinery to actively replicate. Surprisingly, the host's ribosomal proteins are packaged in the virion. Metagenomic analysis of the permafrost sample uncovered the presence of both viruses, yet in very low amount. The fact that two different viruses retain their infectivity in prehistorical permafrost layers should be of concern in a context of global warming. Giant viruses' diversity remains to be fully explored.
Project description:Microbes trapped in permanently frozen paleosoils (permafrost) are the focus of increasing research in the context of global warming. Our previous investigations led to the discovery and reactivation of two Acanthamoeba-infecting giant viruses, Mollivirus sibericum and Pithovirus sibericum, from a 30,000-year old permafrost layer. While several modern pithovirus strains have since been isolated, no contemporary mollivirus relative was found. We now describe Mollivirus kamchatka, a close relative to M. sibericum, isolated from surface soil sampled on the bank of the Kronotsky River in Kamchatka, Russian Federation. This discovery confirms that molliviruses have not gone extinct and are at least present in a distant subarctic continental location. This modern isolate exhibits a nucleocytoplasmic replication cycle identical to that of M. sibericum Its spherical particle (0.6 ?m in diameter) encloses a 648-kb GC-rich double-stranded DNA genome coding for 480 proteins, of which 61% are unique to these two molliviruses. The 461 homologous proteins are highly conserved (92% identical residues, on average), despite the presumed stasis of M. sibericum for the last 30,000?years. Selection pressure analyses show that most of these proteins contribute to virus fitness. The comparison of these first two molliviruses clarify their evolutionary relationship with the pandoraviruses, supporting their provisional classification in a distinct family, the Molliviridae, pending the eventual discovery of intermediary missing links better demonstrating their common ancestry.IMPORTANCE Virology has long been viewed through the prism of human, cattle, or plant diseases, leading to a largely incomplete picture of the viral world. The serendipitous discovery of the first giant virus visible under a light microscope (i.e., >0.3??m in diameter), mimivirus, opened a new era of environmental virology, now incorporating protozoan-infecting viruses. Planet-wide isolation studies and metagenome analyses have shown the presence of giant viruses in most terrestrial and aquatic environments, including upper Pleistocene frozen soils. Those systematic surveys have led authors to propose several new distinct families, including the Mimiviridae, Marseilleviridae, Faustoviridae, Pandoraviridae, and Pithoviridae We now propose to introduce one additional family, the Molliviridae, following the description of M. kamchatka, the first modern relative of M. sibericum, previously isolated from 30,000-year-old arctic permafrost.
Project description:Acanthamoeba are ubiquitous phagocytes predominant in soil and water which can ingest many microbes. Giant viruses of amoebae are listed among the Acanthamoeba-resisting microorganisms. Their sympatric lifestyle within amoebae is suspected to promote lateral nucleotide sequence transfers. Some Acanthamoeba species have shown differences in their susceptibility to giant viruses. Until recently, only the genome of a single Acanthamoeba castellanii Neff was available. We analyzed the draft genome sequences of Acanthamoeba polyphaga through several approaches, including comparative genomics, phylogeny, and sequence networks, with the aim of detecting putative nucleotide sequence exchanges with giant viruses. We identified a putative sequence trafficking between this Acanthamoeba species and giant viruses, with 366 genes best matching with viral genes. Among viruses, Pandoraviruses provided the greatest number of best hits with 117 (32%) for A. polyphaga. Then, genes from mimiviruses, Mollivirus sibericum, marseilleviruses, and Pithovirus sibericum were best hits in 67 (18%), 35 (9%), 24 (7%), and 2 (0.5%) cases, respectively. Phylogenetic reconstructions showed in a few cases that the most parsimonious evolutionary scenarios were a transfer of gene sequences from giant viruses to A. polyphaga. Nevertheless, in most cases, phylogenies were inconclusive regarding the sense of the sequence flow. The number and nature of putative nucleotide sequence transfers between A. polyphaga, and A. castellanii ATCC 50370 on the one hand, and pandoraviruses, mimiviruses and marseilleviruses on the other hand were analyzed. The results showed a lower number of differences within the same giant viral family compared to between different giant virus families. The evolution of 10 scaffolds that were identified among the 14 Acanthamoeba sp. draft genome sequences and that harbored ? 3 genes best matching with viruses showed a conservation of these scaffolds and their 46 viral genes in A. polyphaga, A. castellanii ATCC 50370 and A. pearcei. In contrast, the number of conserved genes decreased for other Acanthamoeba species, and none of these 46 genes were present in three of them. Overall, this work opens up several potential avenues for future studies on the interactions between Acanthamoeba species and giant viruses.
Project description:During the 12 past years, five new or putative virus families encompassing several members, namely Mimiviridae, Marseilleviridae, pandoraviruses, faustoviruses, and virophages were described. In addition, Pithovirus sibericum and Mollivirus sibericum represent type strains of putative new giant virus families. All these viruses were isolated using amoebal coculture methods. These giant viruses were linked by phylogenomic analyses to other large DNA viruses. They were then proposed to be classified in a new viral order, the Megavirales, on the basis of their common origin, as shown by a set of ancestral genes encoding key viral functions, a common virion architecture, and shared major biological features including replication inside cytoplasmic factories. Megavirales is increasingly demonstrated to stand in the tree of life aside Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya, and the megavirus ancestor is suspected to be as ancient as cellular ancestors. In addition, giant amoebal viruses are visible under a light microscope and display many phenotypic and genomic features not found in other viruses, while they share other characteristics with parasitic microbes. Moreover, these organisms appear to be common inhabitants of our biosphere, and mimiviruses and marseilleviruses were isolated from human samples and associated to diseases. In the present review, we describe the main features and recent findings on these giant amoebal viruses and virophages.
Project description:Nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses, or representatives of the proposed order Megavirales, include giant viruses of Acanthamoeba that were discovered over the last 12 years and are bona fide microbes. Phylogenies based on a few genes conserved amongst these megaviruses and shared by microbes classified as Eukarya, Bacteria, and Archaea, allowed for delineation of a fourth monophylogenetic group or "TRUC" (Things Resisting Uncompleted Classification) composed of the Megavirales representatives. A new Megavirales member named Pithovirus sibericum was isolated from a >30,000-year-old dated Siberian permafrost sample. This virion is as large as recently described pandoraviruses but has a genome that is approximately three to four times shorter. Our objective was to update the classification of P. sibericum as a new member of the "Fourth TRUC" club. Phylogenetic trees were constructed based on four conserved ancient genes and a phyletic analysis was concurrently conducted based on the presence/absence patterns of a set of informational genes from members of Megavirales, Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. Phylogenetic analyses based on the four conserved genes revealed that P. sibericum is part of the fourth TRUC composed of Megavirales members, and is closely related to the families Marseilleviridae and Ascoviridae/Iridoviridae. Additionally, hierarchical clustering delineated four branches, and showed that P. sibericum is part of this fourth TRUC. Overall, phylogenetic and phyletic analyses using informational genes clearly indicate that P. sibericum is a new bona fide member of the "Fourth TRUC" club composed of representatives of Megavirales, alongside Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya.
Project description:The largest known DNA viruses infect Acanthamoeba and belong to two markedly different families. The Megaviridae exhibit pseudo-icosahedral virions up to 0.7 μm in diameter and adenine-thymine (AT)-rich genomes of up to 1.25 Mb encoding a thousand proteins. Like their Mimivirus prototype discovered 10 y ago, they entirely replicate within cytoplasmic virion factories. In contrast, the recently discovered Pandoraviruses exhibit larger amphora-shaped virions 1 μm in length and guanine-cytosine-rich genomes up to 2.8 Mb long encoding up to 2,500 proteins. Their replication involves the host nucleus. Whereas the Megaviridae share some general features with the previously described icosahedral large DNA viruses, the Pandoraviruses appear unrelated to them. Here we report the discovery of a third type of giant virus combining an even larger pandoravirus-like particle 1.5 μm in length with a surprisingly smaller 600 kb AT-rich genome, a gene content more similar to Iridoviruses and Marseillevirus, and a fully cytoplasmic replication reminiscent of the Megaviridae. This suggests that pandoravirus-like particles may be associated with a variety of virus families more diverse than previously envisioned. This giant virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, was isolated from a >30,000-y-old radiocarbon-dated sample when we initiated a survey of the virome of Siberian permafrost. The revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus used as a safe indicator of the possible presence of pathogenic DNA viruses, suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health.
Project description:Most viruses are known for the ability to cause symptomatic diseases in humans and other animals. The discovery of Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus and other giant amoebal viruses revealed a considerable and previously unknown area of uncharacterized viral particles. Giant viruses have been isolated from various environmental samples collected from very distant geographic places, revealing a ubiquitous distribution. Their morphological and genomic features are fundamental elements for classifying them. Herein, we report the isolation and draft genome of Cedratvirus, a new amoebal giant virus isolated in Acanthamoeba castellanii, from an Algerian environmental sample. The viral particles are ovoid-shaped, resembling Pithovirus sibericum, but differing notably in the presence of two corks at each extremity of the virion. The draft genome of Cedratvirus-589,068 base pairs in length-is a close relative of the two previously described pithoviruses, sharing 104 and 113 genes with P. sibericum and Pithovirus massiliensis genomes, respectively. Interestingly, analysis of these viruses' core genome reveals that only 21% of Cedratvirus genes are involved in best reciprocal hits with the two pithoviruses. Phylogeny reconstructions and comparative genomics indicate that Cedratvirus is most closely related to pithoviruses, and questions their membership in an enlarged putative Pithoviridae family.
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:Pandoraviridae is a rapidly growing family of giant viruses, all of which have been isolated using laboratory strains of Acanthamoeba The genomes of 10 distinct strains have been fully characterized, reaching up to 2.5?Mb in size. These double-stranded DNA genomes encode the largest of all known viral proteomes and are propagated in oblate virions that are among the largest ever described (1.2??m long and 0.5??m wide). The evolutionary origin of these atypical viruses is the object of numerous speculations. Applying the chaos game representation to the pandoravirus genome sequences, we discovered that the tetranucleotide (4-mer) "AGCT" is totally absent from the genomes of 2 strains (Pandoravirus dulcis and Pandoravirus quercus) and strongly underrepresented in others. Given the amazingly low probability of such an observation in the corresponding randomized sequences, we investigated its biological significance through a comprehensive study of the 4-mer compositions of all viral genomes. Our results indicate that AGCT was specifically eliminated during the evolution of the Pandoraviridae and that none of the previously proposed host-virus antagonistic relationships could explain this phenomenon. Unlike the three other families of giant viruses (Mimiviridae, Pithoviridae, and Molliviridae) infecting the same Acanthamoeba host, the pandoraviruses exhibit a puzzling genomic anomaly suggesting a highly specific DNA editing in response to a new kind of strong evolutionary pressure.IMPORTANCE Recent years have seen the discovery of several families of giant DNA viruses infecting the ubiquitous amoebozoa of the genus Acanthamoeba With double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genomes reaching 2.5?Mb in length packaged in oblate particles the size of a bacterium, the pandoraviruses are currently the most complex and largest viruses known. In addition to their spectacular dimensions, the pandoraviruses encode the largest proportion of proteins without homologs in other organisms, which is thought to result from a de novo gene creation process. While using comparative genomics to investigate the evolutionary forces responsible for the emergence of such an unusual giant virus family, we discovered a unique bias in the tetranucleotide composition of the pandoravirus genomes that can result only from an undescribed evolutionary process not encountered in any other microorganism.