Chitin Synthesis in Chlorovirus CVK2-infected Chlorella Cells

Virology. 2002 Oct 10;302(1):123-31. doi: 10.1006/viro.2002.1572.


Hyaluronan synthesis in chlorovirus PBCV-1-infected Chlorella cells was previously reported (DeAngelis et al., 1997). In contrast, we report here on the detection, characterization, and expression of a gene for chitin synthase (chs) encoded by chlorovirus CVK2 isolated in Kyoto, Japan. The CVK2 chs gene encoding an open reading frame of 516 aa was expressed as early as 10 min postinfection (p.i.), peaked at 20-40 min p.i., and disappeared at 120-180 min p.i. The chitin polysaccharide began to accumulate as chitinase-sensitive, hair-like fibers on the outside of the virus-infected Chlorella cell wall by 30 min p.i. All chloroviruses without the gene for hyaluronan synthase (has) alternatively contained the chs gene, suggesting the importance of polysaccharide production in the course of virus infection. A few chloroviruses possessed both the chs and has genes and produced chitin and hyaluronan simultaneously. Polysaccharide accumulation on the algal surface may protect virus-infected algae from uptake by other organisms, such as protozoa. Since CVK2 was reported to encode two chitinases and one chitosanase, CVK2 is a very peculiar virus that encodes enzymes required for both the synthesis and the degradation of chitin materials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chitin / biosynthesis*
  • Chitin Synthase / genetics*
  • Chlorella / virology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Viral
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phycodnaviridae / enzymology*
  • Phycodnaviridae / genetics


  • Chitin
  • Chitin Synthase