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 The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>