Some viruses have genes encoding proteins with membrane transport functions. It is unknown if these types of proteins are rare or are common in viruses. In particular, the evolutionary origin of some of the viral genes is obscure, where other viral proteins have homologs in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. We searched virus genomes in databases looking for transmembrane proteins with possible transport function. This effort led to the detection of 18 different types of putative membrane transport proteins indicating that they are not a rarity in viral genomes. The most abundant proteins are K+
channels. Their predicted structures vary between different viruses. With a few exceptions, the viral proteins differed significantly from homologs in their current hosts. In some cases the data provide evidence for a recent gene transfer between host and virus, but in other cases the evidence indicates a more complex evolutionary history.
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