Nav: Home

Giant viruses may simply be a Frankenstein of mini viruses

April 06, 2017

The notion that giant viruses represent a potential fourth domain of life is now closer to being disproven, researchers say. They have identified a group of giant viruses that harbor components of many other viruses and proteins, and their analyses suggest that these whopper viruses acquired the various components in an evolutionarily recent timeframe -- likely from and as an adaptation to their hosts. Since the discovery of giant viruses, important questions have been raised about whether these life forms are indeed viruses, or perhaps even a fourth domain of life. Here, researchers uncovered a clue in the wastewater of a treatment plant in Austria. In analyzing metagenomes within the sewage, Frederik Schulz and colleagues identified four new, related species of giant viruses, which they called Klosneuviruses. One of these giant viruses was so "immense" that it maintains the machinery to produce enzymes that interact with 19 amino acids, providing scientists with the best opportunity yet to run an in-depth comparison of these giants against cells and other viruses. The researchers determined that Klosneuviruses belong to a family called Mimiviridae, and analyzed differences among the family's three distinct lineages. They found that gene gain exceeded the amount of gene loss, leading to substantial genome size increase, in each of these three lineages independently. As well, a handful of enzymes appear to have emerged independently across Mimiviridae lineages. Based on their analysis, the authors suggest that Klosneuviruses did not evolve from a cellular ancestor, but rather are derived from a much smaller virus through extensive gain of host genes.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Enzymes Articles:

Fungal enzymes team up to more efficiently break down cellulose
Cost-effectively breaking down bioenergy crops into sugars that can then be converted into fuel is a barrier to commercially producing sustainable biofuels.
How enzymes communicate
Freiburg scientists explain the cell mechanism that transforms electrical signals into chemical ones.
Pac-Man-like CRISPR enzymes have potential for disease diagnostics
UC Berkeley researchers have found 10 new variants of the Cas13a enzyme, the Pac-Man of the CRISPR world, that hold promise for disease diagnostics.
Hydrogen production: This is how green algae assemble their enzymes
Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have analyzed how green algae manufacture complex components of a hydrogen-producing enzyme.
New studies unravel mysteries of how PARP enzymes work
A component of an enzyme family linked to DNA repair, stress responses, and cancer also plays a role in enhancing or inhibiting major cellular activities under physiological conditions, new research shows.
Understanding enzymes
A new tool can help researchers more accurately identify enzymes present in microbiomes and quantify their relative abundances.
Light powers new chemistry for old enzymes
Princeton researchers have developed a method that irradiates biological enzymes with light to expand their highly efficient and selective capacity for catalysis to new chemistry.
Research finds enzymes essential for DNA repair
Scientists at The Australian National University and Heidelberg University in Germany have found an essential component in the DNA repair process which could open the door to the development of new cancer drugs.
New step towards clean energy production from enzymes
Oxygen inhibits hydrogenases, a group of enzymes that are able to produce and split hydrogen.
Genetic diversity of enzymes alters metabolic individuality
Scientists from Tohoku University's Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization have published research about genetic diversity and metabolome in Scientific Reports.

Related Enzymes Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".