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A mysterious 80 nm amoeba virus with a near-complete "ORFan genome" challenges the classification of DNA viruses

By Paulo V. M. Boratto, Graziele P. Oliveira, Talita B. Machado, Ana Cláudia S. P. Andrade, Jean-Pierre Baudoin, Thomas Klose, Frederik Schulz, Saïd Azza, Philippe Decloquement, Eric Chabrière, Philippe Colson, Anthony Levasseur, Bernard La Scola, Jônatas S. Abrahão

Posted 28 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.28.923185

Here we report the discovery of Yaravirus, a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny. Yaravirus presents 80 nm-sized particles and a 44,924 bp dsDNA genome encoding for 74 predicted proteins. More than 90% (68) of Yaravirus predicted genes have never been described before, representing ORFans. Only six genes had distant homologs in public databases: an exonuclease/recombinase, a packaging-ATPase, a bifunctional DNA primase/polymerase and three hypothetical proteins. Furthermore, we were not able to retrieve viral genomes closely related to Yaravirus in 8,535 publicly available metagenomes spanning diverse habitats around the globe. The Yaravirus genome also contained six types of tRNAs that did not match commonly used codons. Proteomics revealed that Yaravirus particles contain 26 viral proteins, one of which potentially representing a novel capsid protein with no significant homology with NCLDV major capsid proteins but with a predicted double-jelly roll domain. Yaravirus expands our knowledge of the diversity of DNA viruses. The phylogenetic distance between Yaravirus and all other viruses highlights our still preliminary assessment of the genomic diversity of eukaryotic viruses, reinforcing the need for the isolation of new viruses of protists.

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