Article

Giant viruses coexisted with the cellular ancestors and represent a distinct supergroup along with superkingdoms Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya

BMC Evolutionary Biology (Impact Factor: 3.41). 08/2012; 12(1):156. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-12-156
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Background
The discovery of giant viruses with genome and physical size comparable to cellular organisms, remnants of protein translation machinery and virus-specific parasites (virophages) have raised intriguing questions about their origin. Evidence advocates for their inclusion into global phylogenomic studies and their consideration as a distinct and ancient form of life.

Results
Here we reconstruct phylogenies describing the evolution of proteomes and protein domain structures of cellular organisms and double-stranded DNA viruses with medium-to-very-large proteomes (giant viruses). Trees of proteomes define viruses as a ‘fourth supergroup’ along with superkingdoms Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. Trees of domains indicate they have evolved via massive and primordial reductive evolutionary processes. The distribution of domain structures suggests giant viruses harbor a significant number of protein domains including those with no cellular representation. The genomic and structural diversity embedded in the viral proteomes is comparable to the cellular proteomes of organisms with parasitic lifestyles. Since viral domains are widespread among cellular species, we propose that viruses mediate gene transfer between cells and crucially enhance biodiversity.

Conclusions
Results call for a change in the way viruses are perceived. They likely represent a distinct form of life that either predated or coexisted with the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) and constitute a very crucial part of our planet’s biosphere.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Arshan Nasir, Dec 18, 2013
0 Followers
 · 
101 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Viruses and other selfish genetic elements are dominant entities in the biosphere, with respect to both physical abundance and genetic diversity. Various selfish elements parasitize on all cellular life forms. The relative abundances of different classes of viruses are dramatically different between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In prokaryotes, the great majority of viruses possess double-stranded (ds) DNA genomes, with a substantial minority of single-stranded (ss) DNA viruses and only limited presence of RNA viruses. In contrast, in eukaryotes, RNA viruses account for the majority of the virome diversity although ssDNA and dsDNA viruses are common as well. Phylogenomic analysis yields tangible clues for the origins of major classes of eukaryotic viruses and in particular their likely roots in prokaryotes. Specifically, the ancestral genome of positive-strand RNA viruses of eukaryotes might have been assembled de novo from genes derived from prokaryotic retroelements and bacteria although a primordial origin of this class of viruses cannot be ruled out. Different groups of double-stranded RNA viruses derive either from dsRNA bacteriophages or from positive-strand RNA viruses. The eukaryotic ssDNA viruses apparently evolved via a fusion of genes from prokaryotic rolling circle-replicating plasmids and positive-strand RNA viruses. Different families of eukaryotic dsDNA viruses appear to have originated from specific groups of bacteriophages on at least two independent occasions. Polintons, the largest known eukaryotic transposons, predicted to also form virus particles, most likely, were the evolutionary intermediates between bacterial tectiviruses and several groups of eukaryotic dsDNA viruses including the proposed order "Megavirales" that unites diverse families of large and giant viruses. Strikingly, evolution of all classes of eukaryotic viruses appears to have involved fusion between structural and replicative gene modules derived from different sources along with additional acquisitions of diverse genes. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Virology 03/2015; 479–480:2-25. DOI:10.1016/j.virol.2015.02.039 · 3.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The numerous and diverse eukaryotic viruses with large double-stranded DNA genomes that at least partially reproduce in the cytoplasm of infected cells apparently evolved from a single virus ancestor. This major group of viruses is known as Nucleocytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDV) or the proposed order Megavirales. Among the “Megavirales”, there are three groups of giant viruses with genomes exceeding 500 kb, namely Mimiviruses, Pithoviruses, and Pandoraviruses that hold the current record of viral genome size, about 2.5 Mb. Phylogenetic analysis of conserved, ancestral NLCDV genes clearly shows that these three groups of giant viruses have three distinct origins within the “Megavirales”. The Mimiviruses constitute a distinct family that is distantly related to Phycodnaviridae, Pandoraviruses originate from a common ancestor with Coccolithoviruses within the Phycodnaviridae family, and Pithoviruses are related to Iridoviridae and Marseilleviridae. Maximum likelihood reconstruction of gene gain and loss events during the evolution of the “Megavirales” indicates that each group of giant viruses evolved from viruses with substantially smaller and simpler gene repertoires. Initial phylogenetic analysis of universal genes, such as translation system components, encoded by some giant viruses, in particular Mimiviruses, has led to the hypothesis that giant viruses descend from a fourth, probably extinct domain of cellular life. The results of our comprehensive phylogenomic analysis of giant viruses refute the fourth domain hypothesis and instead indicate that the universal genes have been independently acquired by different giant viruses from their eukaryotic hosts.
    Virology 10/2014; 466. DOI:10.1016/j.virol.2014.06.032 · 3.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Time-calibrated phylogenomic trees of protein domain structure produce powerful chronologies describing the evolution of biochemistry and life. These timetrees are built from a genomic census of millions of encoded proteins using models of nested accumulation of molecules in evolving proteomes. Here we show that a primordial stem line of descent, a propagating series of pluripotent cellular entities, populates the deeper branches of the timetrees. The stem line produced for the first time cellular grades ~2.9 billion years (Gy)-ago, which slowly turned into lineages of superkingdom Archaea. Prompted by the rise of planetary oxygen and aerobic metabolism, the stem line also produced bacterial and eukaryal lineages. Superkingdom-specific domain repertoires emerged ~2.1 Gy-ago delimiting fully diversified Bacteria. Repertoires specific to Eukarya and Archaea appeared 300 millions years later. Results reconcile reductive evolutionary processes leading to the early emergence of Archaea to superkingdom-specific innovations compatible with a tree of life rooted in Bacteria.
    Frontiers in Genetics 09/2014; 5:306. DOI:10.3389/fgene.2014.00306