Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Published in Annual Review of Microbiology 53 (1999), pp. 447–494. Copyright © 1999 by Annual Reviews. Used by permission.


Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus (PBCV-1) is the prototype of a family of large, icosahedral, plaque-forming, double-stranded–DNA-containing viruses that replicate in certain unicellular, eukaryotic chlorella-like green algae. DNA sequence analysis of its 330, 742-bp genome leads to the prediction that this phycodnavirus has 376 protein-encoding genes and 10 transfer RNA genes. The predicted gene products of ~40% of these genes resemble proteins of known function. The chlorella viruses have other features that distinguish them from most viruses, in addition to their large genome size. These features include the following: (a) The viruses encode multiple DNA methyltransferases and DNA site-specific endonucleases; (b) PBCV-1 encodes at least part, if not the entire machinery to glycosylate its proteins; (c) PBCV-1 has at least two types of introns—a self-splicing intron in a transcription factor–like gene and a splicesomal processed type of intron in its DNA polymerase gene. Unlike the chlorella viruses, large double-stranded– DNA-containing viruses that infect marine, filamentous brown algae have a circular genome and a lysogenic phase in their life cycle.