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Title: Infection cycles of large DNA viruses: Emerging themes and underlying questions

The discovery of giant DNA viruses and the recent realization that such viruses are diverse and abundant blurred the distinction between viruses and cells. These findings elicited lively debates on the nature and origin of viruses as well as on their potential roles in the evolution of cells. The following essay is, however, concerned with new insights into fundamental structural and physical aspects of viral replication that were derived from studies conducted on large DNA viruses. Specifically, the entirely cytoplasmic replication cycles of Mimivirus and Vaccinia are discussed in light of the highly limited trafficking of large macromolecules in the crowded cytoplasm of cells. The extensive spatiotemporal order revealed by cytoplasmic viral factories is described and contended to play an important role in promoting the efficiency of these ‘nuclear-like’ organelles. Generation of single-layered internal membrane sheets in Mimivirus and Vaccinia, which proceeds through a novel membrane biogenesis mechanism that enables continuous supply of lipids, is highlighted as an intriguing case study of self-assembly. Mimivirus genome encapsidation was shown to occur through a portal different from the ‘stargate’ portal that is used for genome release. Such a ‘division of labor’ is proposed to enhance the efficacy of translocation processes of verymore » large viral genomes. Finally, open questions concerning the infection cycles of giant viruses to which future studies are likely to provide novel and exciting answers are discussed. - Highlights: • The discovery of giant DNA viruses blurs the distinction between viruses and cells. • Mimivirus and Vaccinia replicate exclusively in their host cytoplasm. • Mimivirus genome is delivered through a unique portal coined the Stargate. • Generation of Mimivirus internal membrane proceeds through a novel pathway.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Virology; Journal Volume: 466-467; Conference: 1. international symposium on giant virus biology, Ringsberg (Germany), 17-20 Nov 2013; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States