Its like ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’, except with virophages! And in my case, it seems to be closer to two or three degrees.
Its happened again.
Edited by James L. Van Etten, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
Dr. Van Etten is one of my former professors. One of the nicest, most interesting fellows youll ever meet!
He is also one of the discoverers of one of the first giant viruses, PBCV-1 .
The story told in this paper, though, is ‘different’ (gross understatement).
After investigating the contact lens solution of a woman with an eye infection that wasnt responding to antibiotics, scientist found an amoeba.
In that amoeba, they found another giant virus, one they named ‘Lentille virus’. YAY!
In that giant virus, they found another virophage! That is, a tiny virus that replicates in/with a giant virus, ie, a virus infecting another virus. This is the fourth virophage ever found, and it is similar (but not identical) to Sputnik, so they named it Sputnik 2. The first virophage ever connected directly to humans vs ‘the wild’.
But that is not all they found in the new giant virus.
They also found, basically, ‘ERVs’. Of course they arent literally ‘ERVs’, retroviruses integrated into the Lentille virus genome, but there were endogenous Sputnik elements as well as ‘transpovirons’. Transposable elements that are fundamentally viral in nature, but might not necessarily code for functional ‘viruses’ anymore.
When they looked in other giant viruses for these ‘new’ transpovirons, they found em!
Virophages and transpovirons might be a novel way of introducing genetic diversity/exchange of genes between giant viruses!
A discovery made possible by someone not washing their contacts correctly :-/