Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Viruses: More Survival Tricks Than Previously Thought

08.03.2013
For what may be the first time, researchers have discovered a virus inside a host with a non-standard nuclear genetic code — one that differs from the standard genetic code that almost all living things use to produce proteins.

“The finding is significant because it shows that these viruses can overcome what appears to be an insurmountable change in the host genome,” said researcher Derek J. Taylor, professor of biological sciences at the University at Buffalo.

“So the fact that we haven’t previously seen any viruses in these species with a modified genetic code may not be because the viruses can't adapt to that shift. It may be that we haven't looked hard enough.”

The study, titled “Virus-host co-evolution under a modified nuclear genetic code,” was published on March 5 in PeerJ, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal in which all articles are freely available. The article is available at https://peerj.com/articles/50/

Taylor’s co-authors on the study are UB PhD candidate Matthew Ballinger, former UB postdoctoral researcher Shaun M. Bowman, and UB Professor Jeremy Bruenn, all in UB’s Department of Biological Sciences.

The team of scientists discovered the highly adapted virus — a totivirus — in the yeast species Scheffersomyces segobiensis (a distant relative of human pathogens in the genus Candida).

In most living things, the genetic code comprises 64 elements called codons, most of which instruct the body to produce a certain amino acid, the basic building block of a protein. In S. segobiensis, however, the genetic code has been modified: A codon known as the “C-U-G codon,” which usually stands for the amino acid leucine, stands instead for the amino acid serine (a change that can affect how proteins function).

It had been thought that such a radical change in the genome may help host species evade viruses, which rely on hosts’ genetic machinery to create new viral proteins and replicate.

However, the presence of the totivirus in S. segobiensis shows that viruses may be more nimble than previously thought, able to overcome even this enormous hurdle. Intriguingly, the totivirus the researchers discovered has only one of the C-U-G codons left in its genome, suggesting that it may have purged that sequence as it adapted to the yeast host.

While viruses have previously been shown to infect organelles known as mitochondria with a different genetic code, this appears to be the first time a virus has been found to use the modified nuclear code of a complex, cellular host, Taylor said. Whereas the origins of the mitochondrial viruses remain mysterious, the current study was able to reconstruct the origins of the novel yeast virus.

The research team found a variety of odd and interesting evidence pointing to a history of co-evolution between totiviruses and yeasts with the modified code. For instance, the modified yeasts appeared to have incorporated genetic material from totiviruses into their genomes on at least four occasions. In total, evidence was found of past, or present, viral infection in five lineages of yeasts with a modified genetic code.

In the yeast Scheffersomyces stipitis, the scientists even identified a former totivirus gene that the host is now using to produce a protein.

“It’s a non-retroviral RNA virus gene being kidnapped and expressed as a protein by a cellular host in the absence of a current viral infection” Taylor said. The function of this protein is unknown, but the result is further evidence of the unexpected co-evolution between viruses and hosts with modified nuclear code.

Charlotte Hsu | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short
23.03.2017 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Steep rise of the Bernese Alps

24.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

How cheetahs stay fit and healthy

24.03.2017 | Life Sciences

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>