Identification of an L-rhamnose synthetic pathway in two nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses

Madhu Parakkottil Chothi, Garry A. Duncan, Andrea Armirotti, Chantal Abergel, James R. Gurnon, James L. Van Etten, Cinzia Bernardi, Gianluca Damonte, Michela Tonetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs) are characterized by large genomes that often encode proteins not commonly found in viruses. Two species in this group are Acanthocystis turfacea chlorella virus 1 (ATCV-1) (family Phycodnaviridae, genus Chlorovirus) and Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus (family Mimiviridae), commonly known as mimivirus. ATCV-1 and other chlorovirus members encode enzymes involved in the synthesis and glycosylation of their structural proteins. In this study, we identified and characterized three enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the sugar L-rhamnose: two UDP-D-glucose 4,6-dehydratases (UGDs) encoded by ATCV-1 and mimivirus and a bifunctional UDP-4-keto-6-deoxy-D-glucose epimerase/reductase (UGER) from mimivirus. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that ATCV-1 probably acquired its UGD gene via a recent horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from a green algal host, while an earlier HGT event involving the complete pathway (UGD and UGER) probably occurred between a protozoan ancestor and mimivirus. While ATCV-1 lacks an epimerase/reductase gene, its Chlorella host may encode this enzyme. Both UGDs and UGER are expressed as late genes, which is consistent with their role in posttranslational modification of capsid proteins. The data in this study provide additional support for the hypothesis that chloroviruses, and maybe mimivirus, encode most, if not all, of the glycosylation machinery involved in the synthesis of specific glycan structures essential for virus replication and infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8829-8838
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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