The extraordinary evolutionary history of the reticuloendotheliosis viruses

Niewiadomska, A.M. and Gifford, R.J. (2013) The extraordinary evolutionary history of the reticuloendotheliosis viruses. PLoS Biology, 11(8), e1001642. (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001642)

Niewiadomska, A.M. and Gifford, R.J. (2013) The extraordinary evolutionary history of the reticuloendotheliosis viruses. PLoS Biology, 11(8), e1001642. (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001642)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001642

Abstract

The reticuloendotheliosis viruses (REVs) comprise several closely related amphotropic retroviruses isolated from birds. These viruses exhibit several highly unusual characteristics that have not so far been adequately explained, including their extremely close relationship to mammalian retroviruses, and their presence as endogenous sequences within the genomes of certain large DNA viruses. We present evidence for an iatrogenic origin of REVs that accounts for these phenomena. Firstly, we identify endogenous retroviral fossils in mammalian genomes that share a unique recombinant structure with REVs—unequivocally demonstrating that REVs derive directly from mammalian retroviruses. Secondly, through sequencing of archived REV isolates, we confirm that contaminated Plasmodium lophurae stocks have been the source of multiple REV outbreaks in experimentally infected birds. Finally, we show that both phylogenetic and historical evidence support a scenario wherein REVs originated as mammalian retroviruses that were accidentally introduced into avian hosts in the late 1930s, during experimental studies of P. lophurae, and subsequently integrated into the fowlpox virus (FWPV) and gallid herpesvirus type 2 (GHV-2) genomes, generating recombinant DNA viruses that now circulate in wild birds and poultry. Our findings provide a novel perspective on the origin and evolution of REV, and indicate that horizontal gene transfer between virus families can expand the impact of iatrogenic transmission events.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gifford, Dr Robert
Authors: Niewiadomska, A.M., and Gifford, R.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:PLoS Biology
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1544-9173
ISSN (Online):1545-7885
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 The Authors
First Published:First Published in PLoS Biology 11(8):e1001642
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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