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An international team of researchers team searched more than 8,000 virus genomes and found that many newly-discovered giant viruses contain multiple genes for a type of enzyme called cytochrome P450. P450 enzymes are common in animals, plants and bacteria, but finding them in new viruses is unexpected. Prior to the giant viruses, it was never considered that viruses would have these genes.
"This is an extremely interesting finding," says biologist John Stegeman, senior author of the paper and the director of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health at WHOI. "In animals, P450 enzymes metabolize drugs, make steroid hormones, and defend against pollutants. We have yet to find out what they are doing in these viruses, but for sure they are unique, unlike P450s in any other organism."
P450 - Enzymes - Superfamilies - Implications - Chemical
P450 enzymes, which constitute one of the largest enzyme superfamilies known, may also have major implications for understanding chemical effects both in the sea and in human disease processes.
"We know some giant viruses may be linked to some forms of pneumonia, so gaining a better understanding of them will help us to develop ways of tackling those viruses," explains David Lamb, lead author from Swansea University Medical School in Wales, who was working on the research while at WHOI on a Fulbright Scholarship.
P450s - Drug - Targets - Viruses
"The P450s could represent drug targets for giant viruses thought to contribute...
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