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2.  Identification of Novel Positive-Strand RNA Viruses by Metagenomic Analysis of Archaea-Dominated Yellowstone Hot Springs 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(10):5562-5573.
There are no known RNA viruses that infect Archaea. Filling this gap in our knowledge of viruses will enhance our understanding of the relationships between RNA viruses from the three domains of cellular life and, in particular, could shed light on the origin of the enormous diversity of RNA viruses infecting eukaryotes. We describe here the identification of novel RNA viral genome segments from high-temperature acidic hot springs in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. These hot springs harbor low-complexity cellular communities dominated by several species of hyperthermophilic Archaea. A viral metagenomics approach was taken to assemble segments of these RNA virus genomes from viral populations isolated directly from hot spring samples. Analysis of these RNA metagenomes demonstrated unique gene content that is not generally related to known RNA viruses of Bacteria and Eukarya. However, genes for RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), a hallmark of positive-strand RNA viruses, were identified in two contigs. One of these contigs is approximately 5,600 nucleotides in length and encodes a polyprotein that also contains a region homologous to the capsid protein of nodaviruses, tetraviruses, and birnaviruses. Phylogenetic analyses of the RdRps encoded in these contigs indicate that the putative archaeal viruses form a unique group that is distinct from the RdRps of RNA viruses of Eukarya and Bacteria. Collectively, our findings suggest the existence of novel positive-strand RNA viruses that probably replicate in hyperthermophilic archaeal hosts and are highly divergent from RNA viruses that infect eukaryotes and even more distant from known bacterial RNA viruses. These positive-strand RNA viruses might be direct ancestors of RNA viruses of eukaryotes.
doi:10.1128/JVI.07196-11
PMCID: PMC3347303  PMID: 22379100
3.  The 64-Kilodalton Capsid Protein Homolog of Beet Yellows Virus Is Required for Assembly of Virion Tails 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(4):2377-2384.
The filamentous virion of the closterovirus Beet yellows virus (BYV) consists of a long body formed by the major capsid protein (CP) and a short tail composed of the minor capsid protein (CPm) and the virus-encoded Hsp70 homolog. By using nano-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and biochemical analyses, we show here that the BYV 64-kDa protein (p64) is the fourth integral component of BYV virions. The N-terminal domain of p64 is exposed at the virion surface and is accessible to antibodies and mild trypsin digestion. In contrast, the C-terminal domain is embedded in the virion and is inaccessible to antibodies or trypsin. The C-terminal domain of p64 is shown to be homologous to CP and CPm. Mutation of the signature motifs of capsid proteins of filamentous RNA viruses in p64 results in the formation of tailless virions, which are unable to move from cell to cell. These results reveal the dual function of p64 in tail assembly and BYV motility and support the concept of the virion tail as a specialized device for BYV cell-to-cell movement.
doi:10.1128/JVI.77.4.2377-2384.2003
PMCID: PMC141117  PMID: 12551975
4.  Common Origin of Four Diverse Families of Large Eukaryotic DNA Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(23):11720-11734.
Comparative analysis of the protein sequences encoded in the genomes of three families of large DNA viruses that replicate, completely or partly, in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells (poxviruses, asfarviruses, and iridoviruses) and phycodnaviruses that replicate in the nucleus reveals 9 genes that are shared by all of these viruses and 22 more genes that are present in at least three of the four compared viral families. Although orthologous proteins from different viral families typically show weak sequence similarity, because of which some of them have not been identified previously, at least five of the conserved genes appear to be synapomorphies (shared derived characters) that unite these four viral families, to the exclusion of all other known viruses and cellular life forms. Cladistic analysis with the genes shared by at least two viral families as evolutionary characters supports the monophyly of poxviruses, asfarviruses, iridoviruses, and phycodnaviruses. The results of genome comparison allow a tentative reconstruction of the ancestral viral genome and suggest that the common ancestor of all of these viral families was a nucleocytoplasmic virus with an icosahedral capsid, which encoded complex systems for DNA replication and transcription, a redox protein involved in disulfide bond formation in virion membrane proteins, and probably inhibitors of apoptosis. The conservation of the disulfide-oxidoreductase, a major capsid protein, and two virion membrane proteins indicates that the odd-shaped virions of poxviruses have evolved from the more common icosahedral virion seen in asfarviruses, iridoviruses, and phycodnaviruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.75.23.11720-11734.2001
PMCID: PMC114758  PMID: 11689653

Results 1-4 (4)