Comparative Analysis of the Circular and Highly Asymmetrical Marseilleviridae Genomes.Viruses. 2020 11 07; 12(11)V
Marseilleviridae members are large dsDNA viruses with icosahedral particles 250 nm in diameter infecting Acanthamoeba. Their 340 to 390 kb genomes encode 450 to 550 protein-coding genes. Since the discovery of marseillevirus (the prototype of the family) in 2009, several strains were isolated from various locations, among which 13 are now fully sequenced. This allows the organization of their genomes to be deciphered through comparative genomics. Here, we first experimentally demonstrate that the Marseilleviridae genomes are circular. We then acknowledge a strong bias in sequence conservation, revealing two distinct genomic regions. One gathers most Marseilleviridae paralogs and has undergone genomic rearrangements, while the other, enriched in core genes, exhibits the opposite pattern. Most of the genes whose protein products compose the viral particles are located in the conserved region. They are also strongly biased toward a late gene expression pattern. We finally discuss the potential advantages of Marseilleviridae having a circular genome, and the possible link between the biased distribution of their genes and the transcription as well as DNA replication mechanisms that remain to be characterized.