Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30291500
Link to DOI – 10.1007/s00705-018-4067-4
Arch Virol 2019 Jan; 164(1): 325-331
The genus “Tupanvirus” is a new proposed taxon to be included in the family Mimiviridae. The two known tupanvirus isolates were isolated from soda lake and oceanic sediments samples collected in Brazil and were named “tupanvirus soda lake” and “tupanvirus deep ocean”, respectively. These viruses exhibit similarities to amoeba-infecting mimiviruses, but there are also several differences that place them in a separate group within the family Mimiviridae. Their virions have a mean size of 1.2 µm, which include a mimivirus-like capsid and a large cylindrical tail, both covered by fibrils. The linear double-stranded DNA genomes of up to 1,516,267 base pairs encode over 1,200 genes, among which ~ 30% have no homologs in any database, including in other mimivirus genomes. Compared to other mimiviruses, tupanviruses exhibit a broader host range and cause a cytotoxic effect in host and non-host organisms, a phenotype that is not observed for other mimiviruses. Remarkably, these viruses possess the most complete gene set related to the protein synthesis process, including 20 aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, 67-70 tRNAs, many translation factors, and genes involved in maturation and modification of tRNA and mRNA, among others. Moreover, diverse phylogenomic analyses put tupanviruses in a distinct group within the family Mimiviridae. In light of the set of different features observed for these giant viruses, we propose establishment of a new genus to allow proper classification of two known tupanviruses and possibly many more similar viruses yet to be characterized.