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Virus classification Edit this classification
(unranked): Virus
Realm: Riboviria
Kingdom: Pararnavirae
Phylum: Artverviricota
Class: Revtraviricetes
Order: Ortervirales
Family: Metaviridae
Genus: Metavirus

Metavirus is a genus of viruses in the family Metaviridae.[1] They are retrotransposons that invade a eukaryotic host genome and may only replicate once the virus has infected the host.[2] These genetic elements exist to infect and replicate in their host genome and are derived from ancestral elements unrelated from their host. Metavirus may use several different hosts for transmission, and has been found to be transmissible through ovule and pollen of some plants.[3]

Metavirus contains five families of the Ty3/Gypsy element with either one or two open-reading frames; these families are mdg1, mdg3, blastopia, 412, and micropia.[4] Each of the five families contains either one or two open-reading frames, gag3 and/or pol3.[5] There is evidence to support that amino acid deprivation in the elements host genome has frequently caused a frameshift towards the Ty3 element.[6] Metavirus corresponds with the Ogre/Tat gene lineage.[7]


Species of Metavirus are single-stranded RNA retrotransposons. They have an icosahedral and linear conformation and are not enclosed in an envelope.[8] Their diameter is approximately 50 nm and they are usually between 42 and 52 nm in length.[8] These genetic elements contain a core and capsid.[citation needed]


The following species are recognized:[1]


Because of their high mutation and recombination rate and their ability to conduct horizontal gene transfer, the evolutionary history of many retroelements may be challenging to trace (Benachenhou et al., 2013).[9] Scientists often look to the genomes of Metavirus to compare nucleic acid sequences to the sequences of other viruses, constructing lineages and proposing common ancestors.[citation needed]

Multiple taxa of Metavirus have genomic sequence that are homologous to other genera of Metaviridae and a suggest common ancestor and/or coevolution.[10] Scientists often look at capsid proteins for evidence of Metavirus evolution.[11] Much of the lineage of Metavirus remains unsolved and is presently being researched.[citation needed]


Mascagni et al. (2017) conducted researched to find homologs and identify strands in sunflower species. In the experiment, DNA was extracted from various helianthus species and the genomes of retrotransposons were identified using BLASTX analysis. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using neighbor-joining clustering method and a bioinformatic pipeline was constructed to allow genomic analysis. Two elements, SURE and Helicopia, were identified and placed into the Gypsy and Copia superfamilies, respectively.[12] Thus, the SURE element belongs to the Gypsy group, of the Ogre/Tat lineage, of the genus Metavirus.[12] Further analysis led Mascagni et al. (2017) to identify mutations and conclude that the Metavirus lineage evolved before Sirevirus. Mascagni et al. (2017) also found evidence that the SURE elements and Helicopia elements had hybridized, potential for new lineages.

Nefedova and Kim (2009), conducted a study on Drosophila melanogaster to further identify lineages of Metavirus. Homologs were identified from previously extracted DNA of retrotransposons and Drosophila melanogaster and phylogenetic trees were constructed.[13] Metaviruses possess the env gene, allowing them to be infective, which Nefedova and Kim (2009) concluded was obtained from horizontal gene transfer from baculoviruses.[13] Metavirus contains the roo element which is thought to have been obtained from gene transfer from Errantivirus, or more likely, the two genera share a common ancestor.[13]


  1. ^ a b "ICTV Report Metaviridae".
  2. ^ Siebert, C (2006). "Unintelligent Design" (PDF). Discover.
  3. ^ Singh, R; Finnie, R (September 1973). "Seed transmission of potato spindle tuber Metavirus through the ovule of Scopolia sinensis". Canadian Plant Disease Journal. 53: 153–154.
  4. ^ Nefedova, Lidia; Kim, Alexander. "Mechanisms of LTR-Retroelement Transposition: Lessons from Drosophilia melanogaster". Viruses. 9: 1–10.
  5. ^ Levy, Camille; et al. (2013). "Virus-like particle vaccine induces cross-protection against human metapneumovirus infections in mice". Vaccine. 31 (25): 2778–2785. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.03.051. PMID 23583815.
  6. ^ Turkel, Sezai (June 2016). "Amino Acid Starvation Enhances Programmed Ribosomal Frameshift in Metavirus Ty3 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae". Advances in Biology. 2016: 1–6. doi:10.1155/2016/1840782.
  7. ^ Neumann, P; Pozarkova, D; Macas, J (2003). "Highly abundant pea LTR retrotransposon Ogre is constitutively transcribed and partially spliced". Plant Molecular Biology. 53 (3): 399–410. doi:10.1023/B:PLAN.0000006945.77043.ce. PMID 14750527. S2CID 13412101.
  8. ^ a b Menees, Thomas (2018). The Springer Index of Viruses. Springer Nature. pp. 843–849.
  9. ^ Benachenhou, Farid; Sperber, Göran O.; Bongcam-Rudloff, Erik; Andersson, Göran; Boeke, Jef D.; Blomberg, Jonas (2013). "Conserved structure and inferred evolutionary history of long terminal repeats (LTRs)". Mobile DNA. 4 (1): 5. doi:10.1186/1759-8753-4-5. PMC 3601003. PMID 23369192.
  10. ^ Koonin, M; Dolja, V; Krupovic, M (2015). "Origins and evolution of viruses of eukaryotes: The ultimate modularity". Virology. 479–480: 2–25. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2015.02.039. PMC 5898234. PMID 25771806.
  11. ^ Gong, Z; Han, G (2018). "Insect Retroelements Provide Novel Insights into the Origin of Hepatitis B Viruses". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 35 (9): 2254–2259. doi:10.1093/molbev/msy129. PMID 29924338.
  12. ^ a b Mascagni, Farid (2017). "Different histories of two highly variable LTR retrotransposons in sunflower species" (PDF). Gene. 634: 5–14. doi:10.1016/j.gene.2017.08.014. hdl:11568/885451. PMID 28867564.
  13. ^ a b c Nefedove, L (2009). "Molecular phylogeny and systematics of drosophila retrotransposons and retroviruses". Molecular Biology. 43 (5): 747–756. doi:10.1134/S0026893309050069. S2CID 6078688.

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