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1.  A Dimeric Rep Protein Initiates Replication of a Linear Archaeal Virus Genome: Implications for the Rep Mechanism and Viral Replication ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(2):925-931.
The Rudiviridae are a family of rod-shaped archaeal viruses with covalently closed, linear double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genomes. Their replication mechanisms remain obscure, although parallels have been drawn to the Poxviridae and other large cytoplasmic eukaryotic viruses. Here we report that a protein encoded in the 34-kbp genome of the rudivirus SIRV1 is a member of the replication initiator (Rep) superfamily of proteins, which initiate rolling-circle replication (RCR) of diverse viruses and plasmids. We show that SIRV Rep nicks the viral hairpin terminus, forming a covalent adduct between an active-site tyrosine and the 5′ end of the DNA, releasing a 3′ DNA end as a primer for DNA synthesis. The enzyme can also catalyze the joining reaction that is necessary to reseal the DNA hairpin and terminate replication. The dimeric structure points to a simple mechanism through which two closely positioned active sites, each with a single tyrosine residue, work in tandem to catalyze DNA nicking and joining. We propose a novel mechanism for rudivirus DNA replication, incorporating the first known example of a Rep protein that is not linked to RCR. The implications for Rep protein function and viral replication are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3019997  PMID: 21068244
2.  Palindrome Regeneration by Template Strand-Switching Mechanism at the Origin of DNA Replication of Porcine Circovirus via the Rolling-Circle Melting-Pot Replication Model 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(17):9016-9029.
Palindromic sequences (inverted repeats) flanking the origin of DNA replication with the potential of forming single-stranded stem-loop cruciform structures have been reported to be essential for replication of the circular genomes of many prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. In this study, mutant genomes of porcine circovirus with deletions in the origin-flanking palindrome and incapable of forming any cruciform structures invariably yielded progeny viruses containing longer and more stable palindromes. These results suggest that origin-flanking palindromes are essential for termination but not for initiation of DNA replication. Detection of template strand switching in the middle of an inverted repeat strand among the progeny viruses demonstrated that both the minus genome and a corresponding palindromic strand served as templates simultaneously during DNA biosynthesis and supports the recently proposed rolling-circle “melting-pot” replication model. The genome configuration presented by this model, a four-stranded tertiary structure, provides insights into the mechanisms of DNA replication, inverted repeat correction (or conversion), and illegitimate recombination of any circular DNA molecule with an origin-flanking palindrome.
PMCID: PMC506941  PMID: 15308698
3.  Rolling Circle Enzymatic Replication of a Complex Multi-Crossover DNA Nanostructure 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2007;129(46):14475-14481.
Nature has evolved replicable biological molecules, such as DNA, as genetic information carriers. The replication process is tightly controlled by complicated cellular machinery. It is interesting to ask if artificial DNA nano-objects with a complex secondary structure can be replicated in the same way as simple DNA double helices. Here we demonstrate that paranemic crossover DNA, a structurally complicated multi-crossover DNA molecule, can be replicated successfully using Rolling Circle Amplification (RCA). The amplification efficiency is moderate with high fidelity, confirmed by native PAGE, thermal transition study and Ferguson analysis. The structural details of the DNA structure after the full replication circle are verified by hydroxyl radical autofootprinting. We conclude that RCA can serve as a reliable method to replicate complex DNA structures. We also discuss the possibility of using viruses and bacteria to clone artificial DNA nano-objects. The findings that single stranded paranemic crossover DNA molecules can be replicated by DNA polymerase will not only be useful in nanotechnology, but may have implications for the possible existence of such complicated DNA structures in nature.
PMCID: PMC3319872  PMID: 17963390
Paranemic crossover DNA; Rolling-circle amplification; DNA nanotechnology
4.  On the Origin of Cells and Viruses: Primordial Virus World Scenario 
It is proposed that the pre-cellular stage of biological evolution unraveled within networks of inorganic compartments that harbored a diverse mix of virus-like genetic elements. This stage of evolution might comprise the Last Universal Cellular Ancestor (LUCA) that more appropriately could be denoted Last Universal Cellular Ancestral State (LUCAS). This scenario for the origin of cellular life recapitulates the early ideas of J. B. S. Haldane sketched in his classic 1928 essay. However, unlike in Haldane’s day, there is now considerable support for this scenario from three major lines of comparative-genomic evidence: i) lack of homology between the core components of the DNA replication systems of the two primary lines of descent of cellular life forms, archaea and bacteria, ii) distinct membrane chemistries and lack of homology between the enzymes of lipid biosynthesis in archaea and bacteria, iii) spread of several viral hallmark genes, which encode proteins with key functions in viral replication and morphogenesis, among numerous and extremely diverse groups of viruses, in contrast to their absence in cellular life forms, iv) the extant archaeal and bacterial chromosomes appear to be shaped by accretion of diverse, smaller replicons, suggesting a continuity between the hypothetical, primordial virus stage of life’s evolution and the dynamic prokaryotic world that existed ever since. Under the viral model of pre-cellular evolution, the key components of cells including the replication apparatus, membranes, and molecular complexes involved in membrane transport and translocation originated as components of virus-like entities. The two surviving types of cellular life forms, archaea and bacteria, might have emerged from the LUCAS independently, along with, probably, numerous forms now extinct.
PMCID: PMC3380365  PMID: 19845627
comparative genomics; evolution of cells; evolution of viruses; origin of membranes; viral hallmark genes
5.  Rapidly expanding genetic diversity and host range of the Circoviridae viral family and other Rep encoding small circular ssDNA genomes 
Virus Research  2011;164(1-2):114-121.
The genomes of numerous circoviruses and distantly related circular DNA viruses encoding a rolling circle replication initiator protein (Rep) have been characterized from the tissues of mammals, fish, insects, and plants (geminivirus and nanovirus), human and animal feces, in an algae cell, and in diverse environmental samples. We review the genome organization, phylogenetic relationships and initial prevalence studies of cycloviruses, a proposed new genus in the Circoviridae family. Viral fossil rep sequences were also identified integrated on the chromosomes of mammals, frogs, lancelets, crustaceans, mites, gastropods, roundworms, placozoans, hydrozoans, protozoans, land plants, fungi, algae, and phytoplasma bacterias and their plasmids, reflecting their past host range. An ancient origin for viruses with rep-encoding single stranded small circular genomes, predating the diversification of eukaryotes, is discussed. The cellular hosts and pathogenicity of many recently described rep-containing circular genomes remain to be determined. Future studies of the virome of single cell and multi-cellular eukaryotes are likely to further extend the known diversity and host-range of small rep-containing circular viral genomes.
PMCID: PMC3289258  PMID: 22155583
circovirus; cyclovirus; Circoviridae; Rep protein; deep sequencing; circular ssDNA genome
6.  What Does Virus Evolution Tell Us about Virus Origins?▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(11):5247-5251.
Despite recent advances in our understanding of diverse aspects of virus evolution, particularly on the epidemiological scale, revealing the ultimate origins of viruses has proven to be a more intractable problem. Herein, I review some current ideas on the evolutionary origins of viruses and assess how well these theories accord with what we know about the evolution of contemporary viruses. I note the growing evidence for the theory that viruses arose before the last universal cellular ancestor (LUCA). This ancient origin theory is supported by the presence of capsid architectures that are conserved among diverse RNA and DNA viruses and by the strongly inverse relationship between genome size and mutation rate across all replication systems, such that pre-LUCA genomes were probably both small and highly error prone and hence RNA virus-like. I also highlight the advances that are needed to come to a better understanding of virus origins, most notably the ability to accurately infer deep evolutionary history from the phylogenetic analysis of conserved protein structures.
PMCID: PMC3094976  PMID: 21450811
7.  Two-dimensional gel analysis of rolling circle replication in the presence and absence of bacteriophage T4 primase. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(11):2166-2175.
The rolling circle DNA replication structures generated by the in vitro phage T4 replication system were analyzed using two-dimensional agarose gels. Replication structures were generated in the presence or absence of T4 primase (gp61), permitting the analysis of replication forks with either duplex or single-stranded tails. A characteristic arc shape was visualized when forks with single-stranded tails were cleaved by a restriction enzyme with the help of an oligonucleotide that anneals to restriction sites in the single-stranded tail. After calibrating the gel system with this well-studied rolling circle replication reaction, we then analyzed the in vivo replication directed by a T4 replication origin cloned within a plasmid. DNA samples were generated from infections with either wild-type or primase-deletion mutant phage. The only replicative arc that could be detected in the wild-type sample corresponded to duplex Y forms, consistent with very efficient lagging strand synthesis. Surprisingly, we obtained evidence for both duplex and single-stranded DNA tails in the samples from the primase-deficient infection. We conclude that a relatively inefficient mechanism primes lagging strand DNA synthesis in vivo when gp61 is absent.
PMCID: PMC145913  PMID: 8668550
8.  Purification of Host Cell Enzymes Involved in Adeno-Associated Virus DNA Replication▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(11):5777-5787.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) replicates its DNA by a modified rolling-circle mechanism that exclusively uses leading strand displacement synthesis. To identify the enzymes directly involved in AAV DNA replication, we fractionated adenovirus-infected crude extracts and tested them in an in vitro replication system that required the presence of the AAV-encoded Rep protein and the AAV origins of DNA replication, thus faithfully reproducing in vivo viral DNA replication. Fractions that contained replication factor C (RFC) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) were found to be essential for reconstituting AAV DNA replication. These could be replaced by purified PCNA and RFC to retain full activity. We also found that fractions containing polymerase δ, but not polymerase ɛ or α, were capable of replicating AAV DNA in vitro. This was confirmed when highly purified polymerase δ complex purified from baculovirus expression clones was used. Curiously, as the components of the DNA replication system were purified, neither the cellular single-stranded DNA binding protein (RPA) nor the adenovirus-encoded DNA binding protein was found to be essential for DNA replication; both only modestly stimulated DNA synthesis on an AAV template. Also, in addition to polymerase δ, RFC, and PCNA, an as yet unidentified factor(s) is required for AAV DNA replication, which appeared to be enriched in adenovirus-infected cells. Finally, the absence of any apparent cellular DNA helicase requirement led us to develop an artificial AAV replication system in which polymerase δ, RFC, and PCNA were replaced with T4 DNA polymerase and gp32 protein. This system was capable of supporting AAV DNA replication, demonstrating that under some conditions the Rep helicase activity can function to unwind duplex DNA during strand displacement synthesis.
PMCID: PMC1900299  PMID: 17360744
9.  Did DNA replication evolve twice independently? 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(17):3389-3401.
DNA replication is central to all extant cellular organisms. There are substantial functional similarities between the bacterial and the archaeal/eukaryotic replication machineries, including but not limited to defined origins, replication bidirectionality, RNA primers and leading and lagging strand synthesis. However, several core components of the bacterial replication machinery are unrelated or only distantly related to the functionally equivalent components of the archaeal/eukaryotic replication apparatus. This is in sharp contrast to the principal proteins involved in transcription and translation, which are highly conserved in all divisions of life. We performed detailed sequence comparisons of the proteins that fulfill indispensable functions in DNA replication and classified them into four main categories with respect to the conservation in bacteria and archaea/eukaryotes: (i) non-homologous, such as replicative polymerases and primases; (ii) containing homologous domains but apparently non-orthologous and conceivably independently recruited to function in replication, such as the principal replicative helicases or proofreading exonucleases; (iii) apparently orthologous but poorly conserved, such as the sliding clamp proteins or DNA ligases; (iv) orthologous and highly conserved, such as clamp-loader ATPases or 5'-->3' exonucleases (FLAP nucleases). The universal conservation of some components of the DNA replication machinery and enzymes for DNA precursor biosynthesis but not the principal DNA polymerases suggests that the last common ancestor (LCA) of all modern cellular life forms possessed DNA but did not replicate it the way extant cells do. We propose that the LCA had a genetic system that contained both RNA and DNA, with the latter being produced by reverse transcription. Consequently, the modern-type system for double-stranded DNA replication likely evolved independently in the bacterial and archaeal/eukaryotic lineages.
PMCID: PMC148579  PMID: 10446225
10.  Detection of Template Strand Switching during Initiation and Termination of DNA Replication of Porcine Circovirus 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(8):4268-4277.
Nucleotide substitution mutagenesis was conducted to investigate the importance of the inverted repeats (palindrome) at the origin of DNA replication (Ori) of porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV1). Viral genomes with engineered mutations on either arm or both arms of the palindrome were not impaired in protein synthesis and yielded infectious progeny viruses with restored or new palindromes. Thus, a flanking palindrome at the Ori was not essential for initiation of DNA replication, but one was generated inevitably at termination. Among the 26 viruses recovered, 16 showed evidence of template strand switching, from minus-strand genome DNA to palindromic strand DNA, during biosynthesis of the Ori. Here I propose a novel rolling-circle “melting-pot” model for PCV1 DNA replication. In this model, the replicator Rep protein complex binds, destabilizes, and nicks the Ori sequence to initiate leading-strand DNA synthesis. All four strands of the destabilized inverted repeats exist in a “melted” configuration, and the minus-strand viral genome and a palindromic strand are available as templates, simultaneously, during initiation or termination of DNA replication. Inherent in this model is a “gene correction” or “terminal repeat correction” mechanism that can restore mutilated inverted-repeat sequences to a palindrome at the Ori of circular DNAs or at the termini of circularized linear DNAs. Potentially, the melted state of the inverted repeats increases the rate of noncomplementary or illegitimate nucleotide incorporation into the palindrome. Thus, this melting-pot model provides insight into the mechanisms of DNA replication, gene correction, and illegitimate recombination at the Ori of PCV1, and it may be applicable to the replication of other circular DNA molecules.
PMCID: PMC374294  PMID: 15047840
11.  Evolution of DNA polymerases: an inactivated polymerase-exonuclease module in Pol ε and a chimeric origin of eukaryotic polymerases from two classes of archaeal ancestors 
Biology Direct  2009;4:11.
Evolution of DNA polymerases, the key enzymes of DNA replication and repair, is central to any reconstruction of the history of cellular life. However, the details of the evolutionary relationships between DNA polymerases of archaea and eukaryotes remain unresolved.
We performed a comparative analysis of archaeal, eukaryotic, and bacterial B-family DNA polymerases, which are the main replicative polymerases in archaea and eukaryotes, combined with an analysis of domain architectures. Surprisingly, we found that eukaryotic Polymerase ε consists of two tandem exonuclease-polymerase modules, the active N-terminal module and a C-terminal module in which both enzymatic domains are inactivated. The two modules are only distantly related to each other, an observation that suggests the possibility that Pol ε evolved as a result of insertion and subsequent inactivation of a distinct polymerase, possibly, of bacterial descent, upstream of the C-terminal Zn-fingers, rather than by tandem duplication. The presence of an inactivated exonuclease-polymerase module in Pol ε parallels a similar inactivation of both enzymatic domains in a distinct family of archaeal B-family polymerases. The results of phylogenetic analysis indicate that eukaryotic B-family polymerases, most likely, originate from two distantly related archaeal B-family polymerases, one form giving rise to Pol ε, and the other one to the common ancestor of Pol α, Pol δ, and Pol ζ. The C-terminal Zn-fingers that are present in all eukaryotic B-family polymerases, unexpectedly, are homologous to the Zn-finger of archaeal D-family DNA polymerases that are otherwise unrelated to the B family. The Zn-finger of Polε shows a markedly greater similarity to the counterpart in archaeal PolD than the Zn-fingers of other eukaryotic B-family polymerases.
Evolution of eukaryotic DNA polymerases seems to have involved previously unnoticed complex events. We hypothesize that the archaeal ancestor of eukaryotes encoded three DNA polymerases, namely, two distinct B-family polymerases and a D-family polymerase all of which contributed to the evolution of the eukaryotic replication machinery. The Zn-finger might have been acquired from PolD by the B-family form that gave rise to Pol ε prior to or in the course of eukaryogenesis, and subsequently, was captured by the ancestor of the other B-family eukaryotic polymerases. The inactivated polymerase-exonuclease module of Pol ε might have evolved by fusion with a distinct polymerase, rather than by duplication of the active module of Pol ε, and is likely to play an important role in the assembly of eukaryotic replication and repair complexes.
This article was reviewed by Patrick Forterre, Arcady Mushegian, and Chris Ponting. For the full reviews, please go to the Reviewers' Reports section.
PMCID: PMC2669801  PMID: 19296856
12.  Replication of porcine circoviruses 
Virology Journal  2009;6:60.
Porcine circoviruses are circular single-stranded DNA viruses that infect swine and wild boars. Two species of porcine circoviruses exist. Porcine circovirus type 1 is non pathogenic contrary to porcine circovirus type 2 which is associated with the disease known as Post-weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome. Porcine circovirus DNA has been shown to replicate by a rolling circle mechanism. Other studies have revealed similar mechanisms of rolling-circle replication in plasmids and single-stranded viruses such as Geminivirus. Three elements are important in rolling-circle replication: i) a gene encoding initiator protein, ii) a double strand origin, and iii) a single strand origin. However, differences exist between viruses and plasmids and between viruses. Porcine circovirus replication probably involves a "melting pot" rather than "cruciform" rolling-circle mechanism.
This review provides a summary of current knowledge of replication in porcine circoviruses as models of the Circovirus genus. Based on various studies, the factors affecting replication are defined and the mechanisms involved in the different phases of replication are described or proposed.
PMCID: PMC2690592  PMID: 19450240
13.  Rolling Circle Replication of Hepatitis Delta Virus RNA Is Carried Out by Two Different Cellular RNA Polymerases 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(8):3920-3927.
Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) contains a viroid-like circular RNA that is presumed to replicate via a rolling circle replication mechanism mediated by cellular RNA polymerases. However, the exact mechanism of rolling circle replication for HDV RNA and viroids is not clear. Using our recently described cDNA-free transfection system (L. E. Modahl and M. M. Lai, J. Virol. 72:5449-5456, 1998), we have succeeded in detecting HDV RNA replication by metabolic labeling with [32P]orthophosphate in vivo and obtained direct evidence that HDV RNA replication generates high-molecular-weight multimeric species of HDV RNA, which are processed into monomeric and dimeric forms. Thus, these multimeric RNAs are the true intermediates of HDV RNA replication. We also found that HDV RNA synthesis is highly temperature sensitive, occurring most efficiently at 37 to 40°C and becoming virtually undetectable at temperatures below 30°C. Moreover, genomic HDV RNA synthesis was found to occur at a rate roughly 30-fold higher than that of antigenomic RNA synthesis. Finally, in lysolecithin-permeabilized cells, the synthesis of full-length antigenomic HDV RNA was completely resistant to high concentrations (100 μg/ml) of α-amanitin. In contrast, synthesis of genomic HDV RNA was totally inhibited by α-amanitin at concentrations as low as 2.5 μg/ml. Thus, these results suggest that genomic and antigenomic HDV RNA syntheses are performed by two different host cell enzymes. This observation, combined with our previous finding that hepatitis delta antigen mRNA synthesis is likely performed by RNA polymerase II, suggests that the different HDV RNA species are synthesized by different cellular transcriptional machineries.
PMCID: PMC136092  PMID: 11907231
14.  Novel circular DNA viruses in stool samples of wild-living chimpanzees 
The Journal of General Virology  2010;91(Pt 1):74-86.
Viral particles in stool samples from wild-living chimpanzees were analysed using random PCR amplification and sequencing. Sequences encoding proteins distantly related to the replicase protein of single-stranded circular DNA viruses were identified. Inverse PCR was used to amplify and sequence multiple small circular DNA viral genomes. The viral genomes were related in size and genome organization to vertebrate circoviruses and plant geminiviruses but with a different location for the stem–loop structure involved in rolling circle DNA replication. The replicase genes of these viruses were most closely related to those of the much smaller (∼1 kb) plant nanovirus circular DNA chromosomes. Because the viruses have characteristics of both animal and plant viruses, we named them chimpanzee stool-associated circular viruses (ChiSCV). Further metagenomic studies of animal samples will greatly increase our knowledge of viral diversity and evolution.
PMCID: PMC2887567  PMID: 19759238
15.  A novel assay for examining the molecular reactions at the eukaryotic replication fork: activities of replication protein A required during elongation. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(2):656-664.
Studies to elucidate the reactions that occur at the eukaryotic replication fork have been limited by the model systems available. We have established a method for isolating and characterizing Simian Virus 40 (SV40) replication complexes. SV40 rolling circle complexes are isolated using paramagnetic beads and then incubated under replication conditions to obtain continued elongation. In rolling circle replication, the normal mechanism for termination of SV40 replication does not occur and the elongation phase of replication is prolonged. Thus, using this assay system, elongation phase reactions can be examined in the absence of initiation or termination. We show that the protein requirements for elongation of SV40 rolling circles are equivalent to complete SV40 replication reactions. The DNA produced by SV40 rolling circles is double-stranded, unmethylated and with a much longer length than the template DNA. These properties are similar to those of physiological replication forks. We show that proteins associated with the isolated rolling circles, including SV40 T antigen, DNA polymerase alpha, replication protein A (RPA) and RF-C, are necessary for continued DNA synthesis. PCNA is also required but is not associated with the isolated complexes. We present evidence suggesting that synthesis of the leading and lagging strands are co-ordinated in SV40 rolling circle replication. We have used this system to show that both RPA-protein and RPA-DNA interactions are important for RPA's function in elongation.
PMCID: PMC148229  PMID: 9862994
16.  The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells 
Biology Direct  2006;1:29.
Recent advances in genomics of viruses and cellular life forms have greatly stimulated interest in the origins and evolution of viruses and, for the first time, offer an opportunity for a data-driven exploration of the deepest roots of viruses. Here we briefly review the current views of virus evolution and propose a new, coherent scenario that appears to be best compatible with comparative-genomic data and is naturally linked to models of cellular evolution that, from independent considerations, seem to be the most parsimonious among the existing ones.
Several genes coding for key proteins involved in viral replication and morphogenesis as well as the major capsid protein of icosahedral virions are shared by many groups of RNA and DNA viruses but are missing in cellular life forms. On the basis of this key observation and the data on extensive genetic exchange between diverse viruses, we propose the concept of the ancient virus world. The virus world is construed as a distinct contingent of viral genes that continuously retained its identity throughout the entire history of life. Under this concept, the principal lineages of viruses and related selfish agents emerged from the primordial pool of primitive genetic elements, the ancestors of both cellular and viral genes. Thus, notwithstanding the numerous gene exchanges and acquisitions attributed to later stages of evolution, most, if not all, modern viruses and other selfish agents are inferred to descend from elements that belonged to the primordial genetic pool. In this pool, RNA viruses would evolve first, followed by retroid elements, and DNA viruses. The Virus World concept is predicated on a model of early evolution whereby emergence of substantial genetic diversity antedates the advent of full-fledged cells, allowing for extensive gene mixing at this early stage of evolution. We outline a scenario of the origin of the main classes of viruses in conjunction with a specific model of precellular evolution under which the primordial gene pool dwelled in a network of inorganic compartments. Somewhat paradoxically, under this scenario, we surmise that selfish genetic elements ancestral to viruses evolved prior to typical cells, to become intracellular parasites once bacteria and archaea arrived at the scene. Selection against excessively aggressive parasites that would kill off the host ensembles of genetic elements would lead to early evolution of temperate virus-like agents and primitive defense mechanisms, possibly, based on the RNA interference principle. The emergence of the eukaryotic cell is construed as the second melting pot of virus evolution from which the major groups of eukaryotic viruses originated as a result of extensive recombination of genes from various bacteriophages, archaeal viruses, plasmids, and the evolving eukaryotic genomes. Again, this vision is predicated on a specific model of the emergence of eukaryotic cell under which archaeo-bacterial symbiosis was the starting point of eukaryogenesis, a scenario that appears to be best compatible with the data.
The existence of several genes that are central to virus replication and structure, are shared by a broad variety of viruses but are missing from cellular genomes (virus hallmark genes) suggests the model of an ancient virus world, a flow of virus-specific genes that went uninterrupted from the precellular stage of life's evolution to this day. This concept is tightly linked to two key conjectures on evolution of cells: existence of a complex, precellular, compartmentalized but extensively mixing and recombining pool of genes, and origin of the eukaryotic cell by archaeo-bacterial fusion. The virus world concept and these models of major transitions in the evolution of cells provide complementary pieces of an emerging coherent picture of life's history.
W. Ford Doolittle, J. Peter Gogarten, and Arcady Mushegian.
PMCID: PMC1594570  PMID: 16984643
17.  The APOBEC3 Family of Retroelement Restriction Factors 
The ability to regulate and even target mutagenesis is an extremely valuable cellular asset. Enzyme-catalyzed DNA cytosine deamination is a molecular strategy employed by vertebrates to promote antibody diversity and defend against foreign nucleic acids. Ten years ago, a family of cellular enzymes was first described with several proving capable of deaminating DNA and inhibiting HIV-1 replication. Ensuing studies on the apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3) restriction factors have uncovered a broad-spectrum innate defense network that suppresses the replication of numerous endogenous and exogenous DNA-based parasites. Although many viruses possess equally elaborate counter-defense mechanisms, the APOBEC3 enzymes offer a tantalizing possibility of leveraging innate immunity to fend off viral infection. Here we focus on mechanisms of retroelement restriction by the APOBEC3 family of restriction enzymes and we consider the therapeutic benefits, as well as the possible pathological consequences, of arming cells with active DNA deaminases.
PMCID: PMC3934647  PMID: 23686230
18.  Herpes simplex virus DNA synthesis at a preformed replication fork in vitro. 
Journal of Virology  1990;64(10):4957-4967.
Proteins from herpes simplex virus (HSV)-infected cells were used to reconstitute DNA synthesis in vitro on a preformed replication fork. The preformed replication fork consisted of a nicked, double-stranded, circular DNA molecule with a 5' single-strand tail that was noncomplementary to the template. The products of DNA synthesis on this substrate were rolling-circle molecules, as demonstrated by electron microscopy and alkaline agarose gel electrophoresis. The tails contained double-stranded regions, indicating that both leading- and lagging-strand DNA syntheses occurred. Rolling-circle DNA replication was dependent upon HSV DNA polymerase and ATP and was stimulated by a crude fraction containing ICP8 (HSV DNA-binding protein). Similar protein fractions from mock-infected cells were unable to support rolling-circle DNA replication. This in vitro DNA replication system should prove useful in the identification and characterization of the enzymatic activities required at the HSV replication fork.
PMCID: PMC247987  PMID: 2168979
19.  Interactions between geminivirus replication proteins. 
Journal of Virology  1996;70(10):6790-6795.
Geminiviruses are small DNA viruses that replicate in the nuclei of infected plant cells. The closely related geminiviruses tomato golden mosaic virus and bean golden mosaic virus each encode a protein, AL1, that catalyzes the initiation of rolling-circle replication. Both viruses also specify a second replication protein, AL3, that greatly enhances the level of viral DNA accumulation. Using recombinant proteins produced in a baculovirus expression system, we showed that AL1 copurifies with a protein fusion of glutathione S-transferase (GST) and AL1, independent of the GST domain. Similarly, authentic AL3 cofractionates with a GST-AL3 fusion protein. These results demonstrated that both AL1 and AL3 form oligomers. Immunoprecipitation of protein extracts from insect cells expressing both AL1 and AL3 showed that the two proteins also complex with each other. None of the protein interactions displayed virus specificity; the tomato and bean golden mosaic virus proteins complexed with each other. The addition of heterologous replication proteins had no effect on the efficiency of geminivirus replication in transient-replication assays, suggesting that heteroprotein complexes might be functional. The significance of these protein interactions is discussed with respect to geminivirus replication in plant cells.
PMCID: PMC190723  PMID: 8794317
20.  Initiation of lytic DNA replication in Epstein–Barr virus: search for a common family mechanism 
Future virology  2010;5(1):65-83.
Herpesviruses are a complex family of dsDNA viruses that are a major cause of human disease. All family members share highly related viral replication proteins, such as DNA polymerase, ssDNA-binding proteins and processivity factors. Consequently, it is generally thought that lytic replication occurs through a common and conserved mechanism. However, considerable evidence indicates that proteins controlling initiation of DNA replication vary greatly among the herepesvirus subfamilies. In this article, we focus on some of the known mechanisms that regulate Epstein-Barr virus lytic-cycle replication, and compare this to other herpesvirus family members. Our reading of the literature leads us to conclude that diverse viral mechanisms generate a common nucleoprotein prereplication structure that can be recognized by a highly conserved family of viral replication enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3314400  PMID: 22468146
BZLF1; EBV; Epstein–Barr; OriLyt; recombination; repair; replication; Zta
21.  Replication-Coupled Packaging Mechanism in Positive-Strand RNA Viruses: Synchronized Coexpression of Functional Multigenome RNA Components of an Animal and a Plant Virus in Nicotiana benthamiana Cells by Agroinfiltration▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(3):1484-1495.
Flock house virus (FHV), a bipartite RNA virus of insects and a member of the Nodaviridae family, shares viral replication features with the tripartite brome mosaic virus (BMV), an RNA virus that infects plants and is a member of the Bromoviridae family. In BMV and FHV, genome packaging is coupled to replication, a widely conserved mechanism among positive-strand RNA viruses of diverse origin. To unravel the events that modulate the mechanism of replication-coupled packaging, in this study, we have extended the transfer DNA (T-DNA)-based agroinfiltration system to express functional genome components of FHV in plant cells (Nicotiana benthamiana). Replication, intracellular membrane localization, and packaging characteristics in agroinfiltrated plant cells revealed that T-DNA plasmids of FHV were biologically active and faithfully mimicked complete replication and packaging behavior similar to that observed for insect cells. Synchronized coexpression of wild-type BMV and FHV genome components in plant cells resulted in the assembly of virions packaging the respective viral progeny RNA. To further elucidate the link between replication and packaging, coat protein (CP) open reading frames were precisely exchanged between BMV RNA 3 (B3) and FHV RNA 2 (F2), creating chimeric RNAs expressing heterologous CP genes (B3/FCP and F2/BCP). Coinfiltration of each chimera with its corresponding genome counterpart to provide viral replicase (B1+B2+B3/FCP and F1+F2/BCP) resulted in the expected progeny profiles, but virions exhibited a nonspecific packaging phenotype. Complementation with homologous replicase (with respect to CP) failed to enhance packaging specificity. Taken together, we propose that the transcription of CP mRNA from homologous replication and its translation must be synchronized to confer packaging specificity.
PMCID: PMC2224467  PMID: 18032497
22.  DNA Helicase Activity Is Associated with the Replication Initiator Protein Rep of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Geminivirus▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;80(22):11322-11330.
The Rep protein of tomato yellow leaf curl Sardinia virus (TYLCSV), a single-stranded DNA virus of plants, is the replication initiator essential for virus replication. TYLCSV Rep has been classified among ATPases associated with various cellular activities (AAA+ ATPases), in superfamily 3 of small DNA and RNA virus replication initiators whose paradigmatic member is simian virus 40 large T antigen. Members of this family are DNA- or RNA-dependent ATPases with helicase activity necessary for viral replication. Another distinctive feature of AAA+ ATPases is their quaternary structure, often composed of hexameric rings. TYLCSV Rep has ATPase activity, but the helicase activity, which is instrumental in further characterization of the mechanism of rolling-circle replication used by geminiviruses, has been a longstanding question. We present results showing that TYLCSV Rep lacking the 121 N-terminal amino acids has helicase activity comparable to that of the other helicases: requirements for a 3′ overhang and 3′-to-5′ polarity of unwinding, with some distinct features and with a minimal AAA+ ATPase domain. We also show that the helicase activity is dependent on the oligomeric state of the protein.
PMCID: PMC1642161  PMID: 16943286
23.  A Combination DNA and Attenuated Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccine Strategy Provides Enhanced Protection from Simian/Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Induced Disease†  
Journal of Virology  2005;79(24):15356-15367.
Among the most effective vaccine candidates tested in the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/macaque system, live attenuated viruses have been shown to provide the best protection from challenge. To investigate if preimmunization would increase the level of protection afforded by live attenuated SIVmac239Δnef (Δnef), macaques were given two priming immunizations of DNA encoding SIV Gag and Pol proteins, with control macaques receiving vector DNA immunizations. In macaques receiving the SIV DNA inoculation, SIV-specific cellular but not humoral responses were readily detectable 2 weeks after the second DNA inoculation. Following boosting with live attenuated virus, control of Δnef replication was superior in SIV-DNA-primed macaques versus vector-DNA-primed macaques and was correlated with higher levels of CD8+/gamma-interferon-positive and/or interleukin-2-positive cells. Challenge with an intravenous inoculation of simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) strain SHIV89.6p resulted in infection of all animals. However, macaques receiving SIV DNA as the priming immunizations had statistically lower viral loads than control animals and did not develop signs of disease, whereas three of seven macaques receiving vector DNA showed severe CD4+ T-cell decline, with development of AIDS in one of these animals. No correlation of immune responses to protection from disease could be derived from our analyses. These results demonstrate that addition of a DNA prime to a live attenuated virus provided better protection from disease following challenge than live attenuated virus alone.
PMCID: PMC1315994  PMID: 16306607
24.  Replication and Control of Circular Bacterial Plasmids 
An essential feature of bacterial plasmids is their ability to replicate as autonomous genetic elements in a controlled way within the host. Therefore, they can be used to explore the mechanisms involved in DNA replication and to analyze the different strategies that couple DNA replication to other critical events in the cell cycle. In this review, we focus on replication and its control in circular plasmids. Plasmid replication can be conveniently divided into three stages: initiation, elongation, and termination. The inability of DNA polymerases to initiate de novo replication makes necessary the independent generation of a primer. This is solved, in circular plasmids, by two main strategies: (i) opening of the strands followed by RNA priming (theta and strand displacement replication) or (ii) cleavage of one of the DNA strands to generate a 3′-OH end (rolling-circle replication). Initiation is catalyzed most frequently by one or a few plasmid-encoded initiation proteins that recognize plasmid-specific DNA sequences and determine the point from which replication starts (the origin of replication). In some cases, these proteins also participate directly in the generation of the primer. These initiators can also play the role of pilot proteins that guide the assembly of the host replisome at the plasmid origin. Elongation of plasmid replication is carried out basically by DNA polymerase III holoenzyme (and, in some cases, by DNA polymerase I at an early stage), with the participation of other host proteins that form the replisome. Termination of replication has specific requirements and implications for reinitiation, studies of which have started. The initiation stage plays an additional role: it is the stage at which mechanisms controlling replication operate. The objective of this control is to maintain a fixed concentration of plasmid molecules in a growing bacterial population (duplication of the plasmid pool paced with duplication of the bacterial population). The molecules involved directly in this control can be (i) RNA (antisense RNA), (ii) DNA sequences (iterons), or (iii) antisense RNA and proteins acting in concert. The control elements maintain an average frequency of one plasmid replication per plasmid copy per cell cycle and can “sense” and correct deviations from this average. Most of the current knowledge on plasmid replication and its control is based on the results of analyses performed with pure cultures under steady-state growth conditions. This knowledge sets important parameters needed to understand the maintenance of these genetic elements in mixed populations and under environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC98921  PMID: 9618448
25.  Solution Structure of the Endonuclease Domain from the Master Replication Initiator Protein of the Nanovirus Faba Bean Necrotic Yellows Virus and Comparison with the corresponding Geminivirus and Circovirus Structures†‡ 
Biochemistry  2007;46(21):6201-6212.
Nanoviruses are a family of plant viruses that posses a genome of multiple circular single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) components and are strikingly similar in their replication mode to the plant geminiviruses and to the circoviruses that infect birds or mammals. These viruses multiply by rolling circle replication using virus-encoded multifunctional replication initiator proteins (Rep proteins) that catalyze the initiation of replication on a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) intermediate and the resolution of the ssDNA into circles. Here we report the solution NMR three-dimensional structure of the endonuclease domain from the Master Rep (M-Rep) protein of faba bean necrotic yellows virus (FBNYV), a representative of the nanoviruses. The domain comprises amino acids 2-95 (M-Rep2-95) and its global fold is similar to those previously described for the gemini- and circovirus Rep endonuclease domain, consisting of a central 5-stranded antiparallel β-sheet covered on one side by an α-helix and irregular loops and on the other, more open side of the domain, by an α-helix containing the catalytic tyrosine residue (the catalytic helix). Longer domain constructs extending to amino acids 117 and 124, were also characterized. They contain an additional α-helix, are monomeric and exhibit catalytic activity indistinguishable from that of M-Rep2-95. The binding site for the catalytic metal was identified by paramagnetic broadening and maps to residues on the exposed face of the central β-sheet. A comparison with the previously determined Rep endonuclease domain structures of tomato yellow leaf curl Sardinia virus (TYLCSV), a geminivirus, and that of porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) Rep allows the identification of a positively charged surface that is most likely involved dsDNA binding, and reveals common features shared by all endonuclease domains of nanovirus, geminivirus, and circovirus Rep proteins.
PMCID: PMC2577285  PMID: 17472345

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