Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Common lineage suggested for viruses that infect hosts from all three domains of life

03.12.2004


Scientists at The Wistar Institute, working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Helsinki, have discovered structural similarities among viruses that infect hosts from all three domains of life. These structural similarities suggest that the viruses, despite their genomic variations and differences in hosts, may have evolved from a common ancestor billions of years ago. The findings will be published in the December 3 issue of Molecular Cell.



Until recently, scientists have tended to view the viral universe as unrelated families of viruses, with little attention given to their similarities. "People tended to concentrate on a single type of virus," says Roger M. Burnett, Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor in Wistar’s immunology program. "It hadn’t been appreciated until a few years ago that there are great structural similarities among seemingly unrelated viruses."

The research builds on earlier work by Burnett and his colleagues, in which they determined the structure of a virus called PRD1 that infects bacteria. They found that it has remarkable structural similarities to human adenoviruses, which cause various diseases, including respiratory infections. Using data from their own and other laboratories, the researchers have created structure-based models to demonstrate structural similarities in the coats--proteins and architecture--among viruses that infect hosts from all three domains of life. The three domains are eukarya (animals, plants, and other higher order organisms); bacteria; and archaea (a recently described group of microorganisms that differ from bacteria and are commonly found in extreme environments like geysers, and alkaline, acidic or salty waters).


It is difficult to study viral evolution, Burnett says, because viruses live symbiotically with their hosts and adopt host-related traits. Instead of being inherited from a viral ancestor, these host-related traits may be picked up from the host or other microorganisms. For viruses that diverged from a common ancestor billions of years ago, and so have significant differences in genome size, genetic complexity, and host, structural similarities may be the only evidence remaining that indicates a shared lineage.

While viral lineage is in itself a question that interests scientists, research in this area may ultimately inform anti-viral drug discovery. Structural similarities in viruses may point to sites of enzymatic activity that could be targeted with drugs. For example, in two of the viruses studied, one vertex of the apparently symmetric coat is different and used for DNA packaging. With this knowledge in mind, researchers could explore whether human viruses with similar coat proteins also have a unique vertex devoted for DNA packaging. If so, new anti-virals could be developed to target this mechanism.

In addition to senior author Burnett, the other authors of the study are: Stacy D. Benson, Ph.D., formerly of Wistar and now an assistant professor of chemistry at Oklahoma State University, and Jaana K.H. Bamford, Ph.D., and Dennis H. Bamford, Ph.D., both of the University of Helsinki.

Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health; the Human Frontiers Science Program; the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program, Pennsylvania Department of Health; and the Academy of Finland.

Franklin Hoke | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wistar.upenn.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cloud Formation: How Feldspar Acts as Ice Nucleus
09.12.2016 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>