The molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) is a DNA poxvirus that causes molluscum contagiosum (MC, also known as water warts), a viral infection that occurs at the skin and the mucous membranes. MC can be found in any areas of skins or mucous membranes, but it occurs on the trunk of the body, arms, groin, and legs in most of the cases. MCV primarily targets the human as their natural reservoir, and some species of equids have been reported to be infected rarely by MCV. The virus is spread from person to person by touching the affect areas of skin, or surfaces with MCV on it such as clothing, toys, towels, etc. The MCV infection is more common on children than adults, especially for those who are between 1 to 11 years old. And it has affected approximately 122 million people as of the year 2010.
Fig. 1 Negatively stained transmission electron micrograph of molluscum contagiosum viruses.
The virions of MCV is consistent with other members of the poxvirus family, it has a complex structure which consists of a surface membrane, a nucleocapsid core and lateral bodies. The MCV genome is a linear, double-stranded DNA of 180k-200k nucleotides, which is a non-segmented single molecular. Analysis of MCV genome shows that it encodes more than 180 proteins, and 105 of these proteins have direct counterparts in orthopoxviruses (OPV). Some of the corresponding OPV proteins are described to be critical for the viral replication, and more are still uncharacterized. The OPV proteins least conserved in MCV include the membrane glycoproteins. About 20 of MCV proteins who have counterparts in OPV also have cellular homologues or conserved functional motifs. Of the MCV proteins without OPV counterparts, 16 proteins have cellular homologues including some proteins that are predicted to antagonize host defenses; and 10 proteins are reported to have similarity with other MCV proteins or/and distant similarity to proteins of other poxviruses.
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