Nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses

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Virus classification
Group I (dsDNA)

Megaviridae (syn. Mimiviridae)

The nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV), are an order of viruses that contain the Megavirales or giant viruses.[1][2] There are nine families of nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses that all share certain genomic and structural characteristics; however, it is uncertain whether the similarities of the different families of this group have a common viral ancestor.[3] One feature of this group is a large genome and the presence of many genes involved in DNA repair, DNA replication, transcription, and translation. Typically, viruses with smaller genomes do not contain genes for these processes. Most of the viruses in this family also replicate in both the host's nucleus and cytoplasm, thus the name nucleocytoplasmic.

There are 47 NCLDV core genes currently recognised. These include four key proteins involved in DNA replication and repair: the enzymes DNA polymerase family B, the topoisomerase II A, the FLAP endonuclease and the processing factor proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Other proteins include DNA dependent RNA polymerase II and transcription factor II B.


Members of the family Ascoviridae come in different shapes. Some can be rod-shaped, while others are oval. They measure up to 130 nm wide and 400 nm long. Theses viruses have circular double stranded DNA that have a length of about 100–200 kilobase pairs. They infect lepidopteran insect larvae and can infect through parasitoid wasps. Once they infect they replicate and cause death in insect pest. This allows them to control insect populations.[4] Ascoviridae can have up to 180 genes in its genome. The replication of this virus takes place in the nucleus of the host cell. When it replicates, it causes the nucleus to increase in size and eventually burst. After, the virion starts to form and spread.[5]


A member of the family Asfarviridae is a known as an asfarvirus. This virus is the cause of African swine fever. Some of the symptoms for this flu include fever, high pulse, fast breathing, and it can cause death. These symptoms can be similar to those from hog cholera, the difference is that the African swine flu can not be cured. There is no vaccine developed to fight this virus.[6]


The Iridoviridae have linear double stranded DNA genomes up to 220 kilobases long and can code for about 211 proteins. The capsid of this virion is icosahedral shaped and can be up to 350 nm wide. The replication cycle of this virus begins in the nucleus of the host and end in the cytoplasm. Some viruses of this family are often found infecting amphibians while other are found in insect and crustaceans.[7]


The Marseilleviridae viruses have double stranded DNA genomes that are about 372 kilobases long. Members of the family can have about 457 open reading frames (ORFs) in its genome. The host organisms are amoebae. Once it infects, viral replication takes place in the cytoplasm.[citation needed] It was found that the genome of the family Marseilleviridae codes for about 28 different proteins.[8] The capsid of the marseillevirus is about 250 nm wide with a geometry shape of an icosahedral. The replication of this virus usually occurs near the nucleus once it infects the amoeba. Once the virus infects it can cause a shape change in the host’s nucleus.[9]


The Megaviridae contains some of the largest viruses ever discovered. They have linear double stranded DNA genomes with the length of 1,259,197 base pairs, which is larger than some small bacteria. Within in this genome 1,100 proteins are coded. 74.76% of the base pairs are represented by thymine and adenine. The Megaviridae virus can be found infecting acanthamoeba or other protozoan clades.  Once the virus infects the host, the replication cycle takes place in the cytoplasm. Within the genome, DNA repair enzymes can be found. These are used when the DNA is harmed such as when it is exposed to ionizing radiation or UV light.[10]

Traditionally these viruses have been grouped into a family Mimiviridae. Later it appeared that the viruses of the Organic Lake Phycodna Group (OLPG) are more related to Mimiviruses than to Phycodnaviruses. For this reason it has been proposed adding them to legacy Mimiviridae as new subfamily Mesomimivirinae in order to form the more comprehensive family Megaviridae. However, the term Mimiviridae nowadays is used sensu lato synonymous with Megaviridae.[11][12][13][14][15][16]


Pandoraviridae Discovered in 2013 from a coastal water sample in Chile. It is mostly found infecting amoebae. It has a length of 1 micrometer long and .5 micrometer wide. Its genome can be up to 2.5 million base pairs long.[17] The replication of this virus take place in the cytoplasm. Like other giant viruses, it affect the host’s nucleus and can take up to 15 hours to start infecting.[18] Although it is found in water, it does not affect humans, it may actually help us by increasing the production of oxygen in aquatic environments.[19] 


The Phycodnaviridae are icosahedral in shape with a double-stranded DNA molecule. Some members of this family can have a linear double stranded DNA while others have a circular double stranded DNA. The genome has been found to be up to 560 kilobases in length. Up to 50% of the DNA can be represented by guanine or cytosine. This virus is known to infect algae, which means it is found in the ocean.[20]


The Pithoviridae have only two known representatives. These viruses infects amoebas and can survive in low temperatures. For years this virus was believed to be frozen, but due to climate change it has begun to show up again.[21] This is a double stranded DNA virus with its size being 610 kilobases long. The genome is estimated to code for 476 open reading frames. The viron is rod shaped with a length of 1,100 nm long and 500 nm in diameter.[22]


The Poxviridae have a linear double-stranded DNA molecule that can have a length of up to 230 kilobases. The replication of these viruses takes place in the cytoplasm. Smallpox, cowpox, and other pox viruses belong to this family.[23] 

Unclassified viruses[edit]



The Pithovirus, Iridovirus and Marseillevirus appear to form a clade.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colson P, de Lamballerie X, Fournous G, Raoult D (2012). "Reclassification of giant viruses composing a fourth domain of life in the new order Megavirales". Intervirology. 55 (5): 321–332. doi:10.1159/000336562. PMID 22508375.
  2. ^ Colson P, De Lamballerie X, Yutin N, Asgari S, Bigot Y, Bideshi DK, Cheng XW, Federici BA, Van Etten JL, Koonin EV, La Scola B, Raoult D (2013). ""Megavirales", a proposed new order for eukaryotic nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses". Arch Virol. 158 (12): 2517–21. doi:10.1007/s00705-013-1768-6. PMC 4066373. PMID 23812617.
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  4. ^ "Ascoviridae—Ascoviridae—dsDNA Viruses—International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)". International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  5. ^ Asgari, Sassan; Bideshi, Dennis K; Bigot, Yves; Federici, Brian A; Cheng, Xiao-Wen (2017). "ICTV Virus Taxonomy Profile: Ascoviridae". The Journal of General Virology. 98 (1): 4–5. doi:10.1099/jgv.0.000677. ISSN 0022-1317. PMC 5370392. PMID 28218573.
  6. ^ "African swine fever (ASF) | animal disease". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  7. ^ "Iridoviridae—Iridoviridae—dsDNA Viruses—International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)". International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  8. ^ Boyer, Mickaël; Yutin, Natalya; Pagnier, Isabelle; Barrassi, Lina; Fournous, Ghislain; Espinosa, Leon; Robert, Catherine; Azza, Saïd; Sun, Siyang (2009-12-22). "Giant Marseillevirus highlights the role of amoebae as a melting pot in emergence of chimeric microorganisms". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106 (51): 21848–21853. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10621848B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0911354106. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2799887. PMID 20007369.
  9. ^ Aherfi, Sarah (2014-10-01). "The expanding family Marseilleviridae". Virology. 466–467: 27–37. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2014.07.014. ISSN 0042-6822. PMID 25104553.
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  13. ^ Natalya Yutin et al.: Mimiviridae: clusters of orthologous genes, reconstruction of gene repertoire evolution and proposed expansion of the giant virus family, in: Virol J. 2013; 10: 106, doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-10-106
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  15. ^ Fumito Maruyama and Shoko Ueki: Evolution and Phylogeny of Large DNA Viruses, Mimiviridae and Phycodnaviridae Including Newly Characterized Heterosigma akashiwo Virus, in: Front. Microbiol., 30 November 2016, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01942
  16. ^ Weijia Zhang et al.: Four novel algal virus genomes discovered from Yellowstone Lake metagenomes, in: Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 15131 (2015), especially Figure 6, doi: 10.1038/srep15131
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