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Viruses 2017, 9(11), 331;

Poxvirus Host Range Genes and Virus–Host Spectrum: A Critical Review

Laboratório de Vírus, Departamento de Microbiologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais 31270-901, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 20 September 2017 / Revised: 30 October 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smallpox and Emerging Zoonotic Orthopoxviruses: What Is Coming Next?)
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The Poxviridae family is comprised of double-stranded DNA viruses belonging to nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV). Among the NCLDV, poxviruses exhibit the widest known host range, which is likely observed because this viral family has been more heavily investigated. However, relative to each member of the Poxviridae family, the spectrum of the host is variable, where certain viruses can infect a large range of hosts, while others are restricted to only one host species. It has been suggested that the variability in host spectrum among poxviruses is linked with the presence or absence of some host range genes. Would it be possible to extrapolate the restriction of viral replication in a specific cell lineage to an animal, a far more complex organism? In this study, we compare and discuss the relationship between the host range of poxvirus species and the abundance/diversity of host range genes. We analyzed the sequences of 38 previously identified and putative homologs of poxvirus host range genes, and updated these data with deposited sequences of new poxvirus genomes. Overall, the term host range genes might not be the most appropriate for these genes, since no correlation between them and the viruses’ host spectrum was observed, and a change in nomenclature should be considered. Finally, we analyzed the evolutionary history of these genes, and reaffirmed the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) for certain elements, as previously suggested. Considering the data presented in this study, it is not possible to associate the diversity of host range factors with the amount of hosts of known poxviruses, and this traditional nomenclature creates misunderstandings. View Full-Text
Keywords: Poxviridae; network; host range genes; horizontal gene transfer; evolution Poxviridae; network; host range genes; horizontal gene transfer; evolution

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Oliveira, G.P.; Rodrigues, R.A.L.; Lima, M.T.; Drumond, B.P.; Abrahão, J.S. Poxvirus Host Range Genes and Virus–Host Spectrum: A Critical Review. Viruses 2017, 9, 331.

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