THE world's largest known virus just got bigger, and analysis of its genome supports the controversial idea that giant viruses shaped the cells of all animals and plants.
Armed with almost 1000 genes, the mimivirus is a monster compared with classic viruses such as HIV or the flu virus, which seldom have more than 10 genes. Jean-Michel Claverie of the Structural and Genomic Information Laboratory in Marseilles, France, has performed the first analysis of its genetic machinery, identifying which of the mimivirus's genes are switched on during each stage of infection.
He found that the virus has 75 more genes than previously thought. Crucially, Claverie's study reveals that the mimivirus uses its own genes and proteins to orchestrate its replication (Genome Research, DOI: 10.1101/gr.102582.109).
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