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Surprising enzymes in giant ocean viruses



  Surprising enzymes in giant ocean viruses
An illustration of an organism infected with the giant virus known as Mimivirus. Picture credits: Shutterstock

A new study, conducted by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Swansea University Medical School, deepens our understanding of viruses ̵

1; at sea and on land – and their potential to cause life-threatening diseases. Their findings, which examine newly identified genes carried by mysterious "giant" viruses, could be potential new drug targets for giant viruses associated with human diseases. The work appeared this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

An international research team screened more than 8,000 viral genomes and found that many newly discovered giant viruses contain multiple genes for an enzyme called cytochrome P450. P450 enzymes are widely used in animals, plants and bacteria, but it is unexpected to find them in new viruses. Before the giant viruses, it was never considered that viruses would possess these genes.

"This is an extremely interesting finding," says biologist John Stegeman, lead author of the newspaper and director of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health at the WHOI. "In animals, P450 enzymes metabolize drugs, produce steroid hormones and defend against harmful substances, we still have to figure out what they do in these viruses, but they are certainly unique, unlike P450 in any other organism."

P450 enzymes, which are one of the largest known enzyme superfamilies, can also have important implications for the understanding of chemical effects both in the ocean and in human disease processes.

"We know that some giant viruses can be linked to some forms of pneumonia, and a better understanding of these viruses will help us find ways to fight them," said David Lamb, senior author of the Swansea Medical School University in Wales, who was researching a Fulbright fellowship at the WHOI.

"The P450 could be drug targets for giant viruses that are believed to contribute to some lung infections," says Stegeman.

The Discovery of P450 Genes and Enzymes in Various Viruses Opens a New Window for the Development of These Important Viruses Stegeman says that enzymes are the most numerous biological "entities" on Earth, though they are Giant viruses acted Only in 2003 was a virus discovered that was large enough to be seen with a light microscope. More than 1,000 genes were identified in this first giant virus. For comparison: The influenza virus has 14 genes. Since then, more giant viruses with more genes and more P450 have been found worldwide, some with nearly 3,000 genes. In the oceans, even in the deep sea, increasingly huge viruses are found.


Researchers catch the first representative of the most common giant viruses in the sea


Further information:
On the occurrence of cytochrome P450 in viruses Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.1901080116, https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/06/04/1901080116

Provided by
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution




Quote :
Surprising Enzymes Found in Giant Ocean Viruses (2019, June 5)
retrieved on 5 June 2019
from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-enzymes-giant-ocean-viruses.html

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