Structural information can inform our understanding of virus origins and evolution. The herpesviruses and tailed bacteriophages constitute two large families of dsDNA viruses which infect vertebrates and prokaryotes respectively. A relationship between these disparate groups was initially suggested by similarities in their capsid assembly and DNA packaging strategies. This relationship has now been confirmed by a range of studies that have revealed common structural features in their capsid proteins, and similar organizations and sequence conservation in their DNA packaging machinery and maturational proteases. This concentration of conserved traits in proteins involved in essential and primordial capsid/packaging functions is evidence that these structures are derived from an ancient, common ancestor and is in sharp contrast to the lack of such evidence for other virus functions.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.