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1.  Novel Bacteriophages Containing a Genome of Another Bacteriophage within Their Genomes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40683.
A novel bacteriophage infecting Staphylococus pasteuri was isolated during a screen for phages in Antarctic soils. The phage named SpaA1 is morphologically similar to phages of the family Siphoviridae. The 42,784 bp genome of SpaA1 is a linear, double-stranded DNA molecule with 3′ protruding cohesive ends. The SpaA1 genome encompasses 63 predicted protein-coding genes which cluster within three regions of the genome, each of apparently different origin, in a mosaic pattern. In two of these regions, the gene sets resemble those in prophages of Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki str. T03a001 (genes involved in DNA replication/transcription, cell entry and exit) and B. cereus AH676 (additional regulatory and recombination genes), respectively. The third region represents an almost complete genome (except for the short terminal segments) of a distinct bacteriophage, MZTP02. Nearly the same gene module was identified in prophages of B. thuringiensis serovar monterrey BGSC 4AJ1 and B. cereus Rock4-2. These findings suggest that MZTP02 can be shuttled between genomes of other bacteriophages and prophages, leading to the formation of chimeric genomes. The presence of a complete phage genome in the genome of other phages apparently has not been described previously and might represent a ‘fast track’ route of virus evolution and horizontal gene transfer. Another phage (BceA1) nearly identical in sequence to SpaA1, and also including the almost complete MZTP02 genome within its own genome, was isolated from a bacterium of the B. cereus/B. thuringiensis group. Remarkably, both SpaA1 and BceA1 phages can infect B. cereus and B. thuringiensis, but only one of them, SpaA1, can infect S. pasteuri. This finding is best compatible with a scenario in which MZTP02 was originally contained in BceA1 infecting Bacillus spp, the common hosts for these two phages, followed by emergence of SpaA1 infecting S. pasteuri.
PMCID: PMC3398947  PMID: 22815791
2.  Viral Coat Protein Peptides with Limited Sequence Homology Bind Similar Domains of Alfalfa Mosaic Virus and Tobacco Streak Virus RNAs 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(4):3227-3234.
An unusual and distinguishing feature of alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) and ilarviruses such as tobacco streak virus (TSV) is that the viral coat protein is required to activate the early stages of viral RNA replication, a phenomenon known as genome activation. AMV-TSV coat protein homology is limited; however, they are functionally interchangeable in activating virus replication. For example, TSV coat protein will activate AMV RNA replication and vice versa. Although AMV and TSV coat proteins have little obvious amino acid homology, we recently reported that they share an N-terminal RNA binding consensus sequence (Ansel-McKinney et al., EMBO J. 15:5077–5084, 1996). Here, we biochemically compare the binding of chemically synthesized peptides that include the consensus RNA binding sequence and lysine-rich (AMV) or arginine-rich (TSV) environment to 3′-terminal TSV and AMV RNA fragments. The arginine-rich TSV coat protein peptide binds viral RNA with lower affinity than the lysine-rich AMV coat protein peptides; however, the ribose moieties protected from hydroxyl radical attack by the two different peptides are localized in the same area of the predicted RNA structures. When included in an infectious inoculum, both AMV and TSV 3′-terminal RNA fragments inhibited AMV RNA replication, while variant RNAs unable to bind coat protein did not affect replication significantly. The data suggest that RNA binding and genome activation functions may reside in the consensus RNA binding sequence that is apparently unique to AMV and ilarvirus coat proteins.
PMCID: PMC109790  PMID: 9525649

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