"Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive"
talks about the paper:
Paper: A phylogenomic data-driven exploration of viral origins and evolution, Science Advances, 2015. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500527
"The new study focused on the vast repertoire of protein structures, called "folds," that are encoded in the genomes of all cells and viruses. Folds are the structural building blocks of proteins, giving them their complex, three-dimensional shapes. By comparing fold structures across different branches of the tree of life, researchers can reconstruct the evolutionary histories of the folds and of the organisms whose genomes code for them.
The researchers chose to analyze protein folds because the sequences that encode viral genomes are subject to rapid change; their high mutation rates can obscure deep evolutionary signals, Caetano-Anollés said. Protein folds are better markers of ancient events because their three-dimensional structures can be maintained even as the sequences that code for them begin to change."