A functional K+ channel from tetraselmis virus 1, a member of the mimiviridae

Kerri Kukovetz, Brigitte Hertel, Christopher R. Schvarcz, Andrea Saponaro, Mirja Manthey, Ulrike Burk, Timo Greiner, Grieg F. Steward, James L. van Etten, Anna Moroni, Gerhard Thiel, Oliver Rauh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Potassium ion (K+) channels have been observed in diverse viruses that infect eukaryotic marine and freshwater algae. However, experimental evidence for functional K+ channels among these alga-infecting viruses has thus far been restricted to members of the family Phycodnaviridae, which are large, double-stranded DNA viruses within the phylum Nucleocytoviricota. Recent sequencing projects revealed that alga-infecting members of Mimiviridae, another family within this phylum, may also contain genes encoding K+ channels. Here we examine the structural features and the functional properties of putative K+ channels from four cultivated members of Mimiviridae. While all four proteins contain variations of the conserved selectivity filter sequence of K+ channels, structural prediction algorithms suggest that only two of them have the required number and position of two transmembrane domains that are present in all K+ channels. After in vitro translation and reconstitution of the four proteins in planar lipid bilayers, we confirmed that one of them, a 79 amino acid protein from the virus Tetraselmis virus 1 (TetV-1), forms a functional ion channel with a distinct selectivity for K+ over Na+ and a sensitivity to Ba2+. Thus, virus-encoded K+ channels are not limited to Phycodnaviridae but also occur in the members of Mimiviridae. The large sequence diversity among the viral K+ channels implies multiple events of lateral gene transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1107
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • K channel evolution
  • Kcv
  • Mimiviridae
  • Phycodnaviridae
  • Viral K channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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