Identification of a flavivirus sequence in a marine arthropod

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Phylogenetic analysis has yet to uncover the early origins of flaviviruses. In this study, I mined a database of expressed sequence tags in order to discover novel flavivirus sequences. Flavivirus sequences were identified in a pool of mRNA extracted from the sea spider Endeis spinosa (Pycnogonida, Pantopoda). Reconstruction of the translated sequences and BLAST analysis matched the sequence to the flavivirus NS5 gene. Additional sequences corresponding to envelope and the NS5 MTase domain were also identified. Phylogenetic analysis of homologous NS5 sequences revealed that Endeis spinosa NS5 (ESNS5) is likely related to classical insect-specific flaviviruses. It is unclear if ESNS5 represents genetic material from an active viral infection or an integrated viral genome. These data raise the possibility that classical insect-specific flaviviruses and perhaps medically relevant flaviviruses, evolved from progenitors that infected marine arthropods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0146037
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


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