Russian journal of genetics vol:41 issue:4 pages:356-365
Bacteriophages of the family Myoviridae represent one of the most widespread domains of the biosphere substantially affecting the ecological balance of microorganisms. Interestingly, sequence analysis of genomic DNAs of large bacteriophages revealed many genes coding for proteins with unknown functions. A new approach is proposed to improve the functional identification of genes. This approach is based on comparing the genome sequence for phylogenetically and morphologically related phages showing no considerable homology at the level of genomic DNA. It is assumed that gene functions essential for the development of phages of a given family are conserved and that the corresponding genes code for similar orthologous proteins even when lacking sequence homology. The genome was sequenced and compared for two Pseudomonas aeruginosa giant bacteriophages, φ KZ and EL, which belong to a group of φ KZ-related phages. A substantial difference in genome organization was observed, suggesting specific features of phage evolution. In addition, the problem of the minimal genome of the superfamily is discussed on the basis of the difference in size and structure between the φ KZ and EL genomes.