New study suggests giant viruses invent their own genes

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

New research indicates giant viruses may produce genes and proteins which can not be located within the Earth.

Giant viruses have more complex genomes than some simple microbial organisms. Numerous genes code for proteins are found only in giant viruses, according to past studies.

There are four known giant virus families, which include Mollivirus, Megavirus, Pithovirus, and Pandoravirus. Researchers recently identified three new examples of Pandoravirus from samples collected in France, New Caledonia (a French territory in the Pacific) and Australia, and all of the new Pandoraviruses contained large quantities of orphan genes and unique proteins. But these orphan genes differed among the viruses, which meant it was unlikely that they originated in a common ancestor, the scientists reported.

“Ninety percent of their proteins do not share any significant similarity with proteins of other viruses, outside of their own family, or cellular microbes,” study co-author Jean-Michel Claverie, a professor of genomics and bioinformatics at the School of Medicine at Aix-Marseille University in France, said in a statement.

As researchers analyzed orphan genes, comparison were made which targeted regions of DNA sequences that are noncoding, and found between genes.

Similarities were detected to the orphans, which indicated how each virus was producing the new crop of genes from its own DNA. According to the study, events occurred randomly and spontaneously.

As a remarkable concept that could be a game changer for how this giant virus family is studied, the scientists’ findings suggest that new genes and proteins are generated regularly in Pandoraviruses.