All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elliot J Lefkowitz

Advisory Committee Members

Jeffrey A Engler

Brett A Mckinney

Kevin D Reilly

Sunnie R Thompson

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2010

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Heersink School of Medicine

Abstract

We have investigated the set of all poxvirus proteins for information about the origins of protein coding genes of the Poxviridae family of viruses. A global assessment of all poxvirus proteins for levels of similarity to proteins of other organisms, including eukaryotes, viruses, and prokaryotes, has suggested trends and relationships informative about poxvirus evolution and poxvirus interactions with hosts. Our research has focused on the poxvirus proteins subset this assessment identified as likely to have evolutionary histories involving horizontal gene transfer (HGT). We have used phylogenetic reconstructions to individually determine the sources of more than 70 horizontally transferred genes present in poxvirus genomes, finding that genes apparently transferred into poxviruses have a wide variety of probable sources, and that they have been transferred into viruses of the poxvirus family throughout the evolutionary history of the virus family. Integration of this dataset, our collected information about distribution and functions of these genes, and a newly updated evolutionary tree of the poxvirus family has revealed new information about evolutionary connections between poxviruses, and between poxvirus species and their hosts, adding to the understanding of the history and pathogenesis of this family of viruses.

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