We report the complete sequence of a large rod-shaped DNA virus, called the Hz-1 virus. This virus persistently infects the Heliothis zea cell lines. The Hz-1 virus has a double-stranded circular DNA genome of 228,089 bp encoding 154 open reading frames (ORFs) and also expresses a persistence-associated transcript 1, PAT1. The G+C content of the Hz-1 virus genome is 41.8%, with a gene density of one gene per 1.47 kb. Sequence analysis revealed that a 9.6-kb region at 43.6 to 47.8 map units harbors five cellular genes encoding proteins with homology to dUTP pyrophosphatase, matrix metalloproteinase, deoxynucleoside kinase, glycine hydroxymethyltransferase, and ribonucleotide reductase large subunit. Other cellular homologs were also detected dispersed in the viral genome. Several baculovirus homologs were detected in the Hz-1 virus genome. These include PxOrf-70, PxOrf-29, AcOrf-81, AcOrf-96, AcOrf-22, VLF-1, RNA polymerase LEF-8 (orf50), and two structural proteins, p74 and p91. The Hz-1 virus p74 homolog shows high structural conservation with a double transmembrane domain at its C terminus. Phylogenetic analysis of the p74 revealed that the Hz-1 virus is evolutionarily distant from the baculoviruses. Another distinctive feature of the Hz-1 virus genome is a gene that is involved in insect development. However, the remainder of the ORFs (81%) encoded proteins that bear no homology to any known proteins. In conclusion, the sequence differences between the Hz-1 virus and the baculoviruses outnumber the similarities and suggest that the Hz-1 virus may form a new family of viruses distantly related to the Baculoviridae.
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