Viruses that infect thermophilic Archaea are unique in both their structure and genetic makeup. The lemon-shaped fuselloviruses-which infect members of the order Sulfolobales, growing optimally at 80 °C and pH 3-are some of the most ubiquitous and best studied viruses of the thermoacidophilic Archaea. Nonetheless, much remains to be learned about these viruses. In order to investigate fusellovirus evolution, we have isolated and characterized a novel fusellovirus, Sulfolobus spindle-shaped virus 10 (formerly SSV-L1). Comparative genomic analyses highlight significant similarity with both SSV8 and SSV9, as well as conservation of promoter elements within the Fuselloviridae. SSV10 encodes five ORFs with no homology within or outside of the Fuselloviridae, as well as a putatively functional Cas4-like ORF, which may play a role in evading CRISPR-mediated host defenses. Moreover, we demonstrate the ability of SSV10 to withstand mutation in a fashion consistent with mutagenesis in SSV1.
Keywords: Archaea; CRISPR/Cas; biogeography.