An endogenous foamy-like viral element in the coelacanth genome

Guan Zhu Han, Michael Worobey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Little is known about the origin and long-term evolutionary mode of retroviruses. Retroviruses can integrate into their hosts' genomes, providing a molecular fossil record for studying their deep history. Here we report the discovery of an endogenous foamy virus-like element, which we designate 'coelacanth endogenous foamy-like virus' (CoeEFV), within the genome of the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae). Phylogenetic analyses place CoeEFV basal to all known foamy viruses, strongly suggesting an ancient ocean origin of this major retroviral lineage, which had previously been known to infect only land mammals. The discovery of CoeEFV reveals the presence of foamy-like viruses in species outside the Mammalia. We show that foamy-like viruses have likely codiverged with their vertebrate hosts for more than 407 million years and underwent an evolutionary transition from water to land with their vertebrate hosts. These findings suggest an ancient marine origin of retroviruses and have important implications in understanding foamy virus biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1002790
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Immunology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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