1887

Abstract

The accompanying phylogenetic study of large double-stranded DNA viruses based on their δ DNA polymerase genes suggests that ascoviruses (family ) and iridoviruses (family ) are closely related and may share a common ancestor. This relationship was unexpected because of marked differences between these viruses. Iridoviruses produce icosahedral virions and occur broadly among vertebrates and invertebrates, whereas ascoviruses typically produce reniform or bacilliform virions and are restricted to insect hosts, primarily lepidopterans. Detailed comparisons of these two virus types are not possible because fundamental information on the properties of the virions and their genomes is lacking, especially for ascoviruses. To facilitate further investigation of the putative evolutionary relationship between ascoviruses and iridoviruses, the genomes of representative viruses from each family were compared with respect to physical configuration, presence of DNA repeats and degree of DNA methylation. Genomes from (SfAV1), (HvAV3) and (DpAV4) ascoviruses were all found to be circular and partially superhelical and to contain large interspersed repeats of 1–3 kbp. Mosquito (IV type 3), lepidopteran (IV type 6) and isopod (IV type 31) iridovirus genomes were all linear and lacked large regions of repetitive DNA. Ascovirus and iridovirus genomes were methylated and one, DpAV4, had the highest degree of methylation of any reported animal DNA virus. The major differences in the physical and biochemical characteristics of ascoviruses and iridoviruses reported here provide a foundation for further studies of their relatedness while making their possible close relationship and divergence during evolution of even greater interest.

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2000-12-01
2019-10-19
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