Mol Biol Evol. 2013 Apr 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Lateral gene transfer of Family A DNA polymerases between thermophilic viruses, Aquificae, and Apicomplexa
Schoenfeld TW, Murugapiran S, Dodsworth JA, Floyd S, Lodes M, Mead DA, Hedlund BP.
Lucigen, 2905 Parmenter Street, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562.
Bioinformatics and functional screens identified a group of Family A-type DNA Polymerase (polA) genes encoded by viruses inhabiting circumneutral and alkaline hot springs in Yellowstone National Park and the U.S. Great Basin. The proteins encoded by these viral polA genes (PolAs) shared no significant sequence similarity with any known viral proteins, but were remarkably similar to PolAs encoded by two of three families of the bacterial phylum Aquificae and by several apicoplast-targeted PolA-like proteins found in the eukaryotic phylum Apicomplexa, which includes the obligate parasites Plasmodium, Babesia, and Toxoplasma. The viral gene products share signature elements previously associated only with Aquificae and Apicomplexa PolA-like proteins and were similar to proteins encoded by prophage elements of a variety of otherwise unrelated Bacteria, each of which additionally encoded a prototypical bacterial PolA. Unique among known viral DNA polymerases, the viral PolA proteins of this study share with the Apicomplexa proteins large amino-terminal domains with putative helicase/primase elements but low primary sequence similarity. The genomic context and distribution, phylogeny, and biochemistry of these PolA proteins suggest that thermophilic viruses transferred polA genes to the Apicomplexa, likely through secondary endosymbiosis of a virus-infected proto-apicoplast, and to the common ancestor of two of three Aquificae families, where they displaced the orthologous cellular polA gene. Based on biochemical activity, gene structure, and sequence similarity we speculate that the xenologous viral-type polA genes may have functions associated with diversity-generating recombination in both Bacteria and Apicomplexa.
PMID: 23608703 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]