Friday, March 24, 2017

A virus that can lose half its genome and still function:

In Portland State University, researchers have been studying a virus that infects single celled organisms. The virus, called archaeal fusellovirus SSV1, is found in extreme conditions near boiling and acidic hot springs with volcanic activity. It is one of the better-characterized Achaea infecting viruses, which are notoriously so diverse that it’s difficult to surmise what their genes could possibly be used for.

In their study, the researchers selectively removed certain genes from the virus to see if it could still infect its host. Amazingly, they were able to disrupt about half of the genes and the virus was still able to replicate. This included one of the minor glycoproteins vp3. Although capsid morphology was abnormal post modification, it was still functional.

The researchers state that this will help us understand viral mutation, in particular with viruses like HIV. I’m a little skeptical given the fact that they don’t necessarily share a single gene in common, but perhaps, like the central dogma, understanding one component is transferable to another component

Elisa Hofmeister ‘18

Press release:

Manuscript:
http://jvi.asm.org/content/early/2017/01/26/JVI.02406-16.full.pdf

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