Detecting a virus as likely as Medusa monster of Greek myth

Recently in a hot spring in Japan, scientists have discovered a new giant family of viruses with the ability to come out of Greek mythology.

The virus is called Medusavirus - a name sufficient to make many people guess their ability. Like the Medusa monster in Greek mythology, Medusavirus can also turn its host into stone.

The host of this virus is A. castellanii - a kind of amoeba . After penetration, Medusavirus will cause the host body to form a hard shell, pushing the host into hibernation. The virus itself also has a crust with hundreds of sharp spines wrapped in a sphere to protect genetic material, like the solid head of Medusa.

Picture 1 of Detecting a virus as likely as Medusa monster of Greek myth

The virus was discovered by experts from the University of Tokyo. The team said this is a new virus belonging to a huge strain of viruses, named Medusaviridae .

Giant virus is a large group of viruses, even large with bacteria but contains special genetic material that cannot be found in living organisms. Before 2000, the concept of giant viruses did not exist, because science thought they were bacteria. Because it was discovered nearly two decades ago, the findings of this virus still surprise scientists.

The virus does not have a cell that can divide, nor replicate itself; instead, it relies entirely on the host cell to make copies of itself.

Where does this virus come from? Scientists have not been able to give an accurate answer so far, and it is speculated that the virus may have originated from the evolution of cyclic DNA plasmids that can move between cells.

Picture 2 of Detecting a virus as likely as Medusa monster of Greek myth
The host of this Medusavirus is A. castellanii - a type of amoeba. After penetration, Medusavirus will cause the host body to form a hard shell, pushing the host into hibernation. At the same time, this virus also has a crust with hundreds of spikes, just like the snake head of Medusa.

As more and more giant viruses were discovered, scientists began to suspect that some genes in the organism may have originated from ancient viruses.

During the study, Japanese scientists discovered that this giant virus has a complex double-stranded DNA set, while possessing a complete set of histones (highly alkaline proteins) that can fold DNA. in the nucleus and regulating gene expression.

The scientists found that when they got inside the host, their DNA replication occurred in the nucleus of the amoeba, and in many observations the scientists found that the virus and amoeba evolved and divided. sharing genetic information.

Picture 3 of Detecting a virus as likely as Medusa monster of Greek myth

Because the virus does not have a nucleus, the scientists feel very strange because it means that during the co-evolution, the Medusa virus may have acquired genes that encode and directly hijack the nucleus. to turn amoeba into "petrified".

Further analysis showed that in the evolutionary tree, the DNA polymerase of Medusa virus lies in the origin of DNA polymerase found in eukaryotes, which means that our DNA polymerase may be derived from viruses. Medusa or is closely related to this virus.

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