Four spontaneously derived, antigenic variants of chlorella virus PBCV-1 contained 27- to 37-kb deletions in the left end of the 330-kb genome. Two of the mutants, which were serologically identical, had deletions that began from map position 4.9 or 16 and ended at position 42.2 kb. In total, the two deleted regions encoded 28 putative functional open reading frames (ORFs); these deletions probably arose from homologous recombination. The other two mutants, which were serologically identical but distinct from the first two mutants, lacked the entire left terminal 37 kb of the PBCV-1 genome, including an identical 2.2-kb inverted terminal repeat region present at both ends of the wild-type genome. The deleted left end region was replaced by the transposition of an inverted 7.7- or 18.5-kb copy of the right end of the PBCV-1 genome. The region deleted in these two viruses encoded 26 single-copy ORFs, of which 23 were common to those deleted in the first two mutant viruses. The junctions of the deletions/transpositions probably arose from nonhomologous recombination. Taken together, the results indicate that 40.1 kb of single-copy DNA encoding 31 ORFs at the left end of the genome are unnecessary for PBCV-1 replication inChlorellastrain NC64A in the laboratory. The results also indicate that the size of the inverted terminal repeat region in this virus can be highly variable and that the PBCV-1 DNA packaging process tolerates large changes in genome size.
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