Identification and phylogeny of a non-specific endonuclease gene of white spot syndrome virus of shrimp

Jeroen Witteveldt, Mariëlle C W van Hulten, Just M Vlak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a taxonomically unclassified virus which causes a disease in shrimps worldwide. A 936 bp long open reading frame (ORF) was found on a 7.2 kb HindIII fragment of the DNA genome of WSSV located adjacent to the ribonucleotide reductase small subunit gene. This putative ORF showed homology to prokaryotic and eukaryotic endonucleases, which contain a non-specific endonuclease motif. Alignment with viral and eukaryotic endonuclease ORFs revealed that most catalytically and structurally important amino acid residues were present in the putative WSSV non-specific endonuclease gene. An unrooted parsimonous phylogenetic tree of non-specific endonucleases indicated that the WSSV ORF was located in a well bootstrap supported clade containing only arthopods, including one of WSSV's natural hosts, Penaeus japonicus. A similar conjunction was found for the only other viral homologue, present in Fowlpox virus, which was also found in a well bootstrap-supported clade with its natural host, Gallus gallus. This clustering of virus and host suggests that both WSSV and Fowlpox virus may have acquired their nuclease genes from their respective natural hosts. Because the motif for non-specific nucleases is found in only two viruses, this gene cannot be used to clarify the taxonomic position of WSSV. However, the presence of this type of nuclease rarely found in viruses adds a novel feature to WSSV.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-7
Number of pages7
JournalVirus Genes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA Viruses/classification
  • DNA Viruses/enzymology
  • DNA Viruses/genetics
  • Endonucleases/genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Alignment


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