264 research outputs found

    Mimivirus Relatives in the Sargasso Sea

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    The discovery and genome analysis of Acanthamoeba polyphaga Mimivirus, the largest known DNA virus, challenged much of the accepted dogma regarding viruses. Its particle size (>400 nm), genome length (1.2 million bp) and huge gene repertoire (911 protein coding genes) all contribute to blur the established boundaries between viruses and the smallest parasitic cellular organisms. Phylogenetic analyses also suggested that the Mimivirus lineage could have emerged prior to the individualization of cellular organisms from the three established domains, triggering a debate that can only be resolved by generating and analyzing more data. The next step is then to seek some evidence that Mimivirus is not the only representative of its kind and determine where to look for new Mimiviridae. An exhaustive similarity search of all Mimivirus predicted proteins against all publicly available sequences identified many of their closest homologues among the Sargasso Sea environmental sequences. Subsequent phylogenetic analyses suggested that unknown large viruses evolutionarily closer to Mimivirus than to any presently characterized species exist in abundance in the Sargasso Sea. Their isolation and genome sequencing could prove invaluable in understanding the origin and diversity of large DNA viruses, and shed some light on the role they eventually played in the emergence of eukaryotes.Comment: see also http://www.giantvirus.or

    A Potential Role for the Interaction of Wolbachia Surface Proteins with the Brugia malayi Glycolytic Enzymes and Cytoskeleton in Maintenance of Endosymbiosis

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    The human filarial parasite Brugia malayi harbors an endosymbiotic bacterium of the genus Wolbachia. The Wolbachia represent an attractive target for the control of filarial induced disease as elimination of the bacteria affects molting, reproduction and survival of the worms. The molecular basis for the symbiotic relationship between Wolbachia and their filarial hosts has yet to be elucidated. To identify proteins involved in this process, we focused on the Wolbachia surface proteins (WSPs), which are known to be involved in bacteria-host interactions in other bacterial systems. Two WSP-like proteins (wBm0152 and wBm0432) were localized to various host tissues of the B. malayi female adult worms and are present in the excretory/secretory products of the worms. We provide evidence that both of these proteins bind specifically to B. malayi crude protein extracts and to individual filarial proteins to create functional complexes. The wBm0432 interacts with several key enzymes involved in the host glycolytic pathway, including aldolase and enolase. The wBm0152 interacts with the host cytoskeletal proteins actin and tubulin. We also show these interactions in vitro and have verified that wBm0432 and B. malayi aldolase, as well as wBm0152 and B. malayi actin, co-localize to the vacuole surrounding Wolbachia. We propose that both WSP protein complexes interact with each other via the aldolase-actin link and/or via the possible interaction between the host's enolase and the cytoskeleton, and play a role in Wolbachia distribution during worm growth and embryogenesis. © 2013 Melnikow et al

    Transcriptomes and pathways associated with infectivity, survival and immunogenicity in Brugia malayi L3

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    Background: Filarial nematode parasites cause serious diseases such as elephantiasis and river blindness in humans, and heartworm infections in dogs. Third stage filarial larvae (L3) are a critical stage in the life cycle of filarial parasites, because this is the stage that is transmitted by arthropod vectors to initiate infections in mammals. Improved understanding of molecular mechanisms associated with this transition may provide important leads for development of new therapies and vaccines to prevent filarial infections. This study explores changes in gene expression associated with the transition of Brugia malayi third stage larvae (BmL3) from mosquitoes into mammalian hosts and how these changes are affected by radiation. Radiation effects are especially interesting because irradiated L3 induce partial immunity to filarial infections. The underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for the efficacy of such vaccines are unkown. Results: Expression profiles were obtained using a new filarial microarray with 18, 104 64-mer elements. 771 genes were identified as differentially expressed in two-way comparative analyses of the three L3 types. 353 genes were up-regulated in mosquito L3 (L3i) relative to cultured L3 (L3c). These genes are important for establishment of filarial infections in mammalian hosts. Other genes were up-regulated in L3c relative to L3i (234) or irradiated L3 (L3ir) (22). These culture-induced transcripts include key molecules required for growth and development. 165 genes were up-regulated in L3ir relative to L3c; these genes encode highly immunogenic proteins and proteins involved in radiation repair. L3ir and L3i have similar transcription profiles for genes that encode highly immunogenic proteins, antioxidants and cuticle components. Conclusion: Changes in gene expression that normally occur during culture under conditions that support L3 development and molting are prevented or delayed by radiation. This may explain the enhanced immunogenicity of L3ir. Gene Ontology and KEGG analyses revealed altered pathways between L3 types. Energy and "immune pathways" are up-regulated and may be needed for L3i invasion and survival, while growth and development are priorities for L3c. This study has improved our understanding of molecules involved in parasite invasion and immune evasion, potential targets of protective immunity, and molecules required for parasite growth and development

    Evolutionary History and Attenuation of Myxoma Virus on Two Continents

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    The attenuation of myxoma virus (MYXV) following its introduction as a biological control into the European rabbit populations of Australia and Europe is the canonical study of the evolution of virulence. However, the evolutionary genetics of this profound change in host-pathogen relationship is unknown. We describe the genome-scale evolution of MYXV covering a range of virulence grades sampled over 49 years from the parallel Australian and European epidemics, including the high-virulence progenitor strains released in the early 1950s. MYXV evolved rapidly over the sampling period, exhibiting one of the highest nucleotide substitution rates ever reported for a double-stranded DNA virus, and indicative of a relatively high mutation rate and/or a continually changing selective environment. Our comparative sequence data reveal that changes in virulence involved multiple genes, likely losses of gene function due to insertion-deletion events, and no mutations common to specific virulence grades. Hence, despite the similarity in selection pressures there are multiple genetic routes to attain either highly virulent or attenuated phenotypes in MYXV, resulting in convergence for phenotype but not genotype. © 2012 Kerr et al

    The role of RNA folding free energy in the evolution of the polymerase genes of the influenza A virus

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    RNA folding free energy is important for the evolution and host-adaptation of the influenza virus. Human virus polymerase genes are shown to have substantially higher folding free energy values than their avian counterparts

    Members of a Large Retroposon Family Are Determinants of Post-Transcriptional Gene Expression in Leishmania

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    Trypanosomatids are unicellular protists that include the human pathogens Leishmania spp. (leishmaniasis), Trypanosoma brucei (sleeping sickness), and Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease). Analysis of their recently completed genomes confirmed the presence of non–long-terminal repeat retrotransposons, also called retroposons. Using the 79-bp signature sequence common to all trypanosomatid retroposons as bait, we identified in the Leishmania major genome two new large families of small elements—LmSIDER1 (785 copies) and LmSIDER2 (1,073 copies)—that fulfill all the characteristics of extinct trypanosomatid retroposons. LmSIDERs are ∼70 times more abundant in L. major compared to T. brucei and are found almost exclusively within the 3′-untranslated regions (3′UTRs) of L. major mRNAs. We provide experimental evidence that LmSIDER2 act as mRNA instability elements and that LmSIDER2-containing mRNAs are generally expressed at lower levels compared to the non-LmSIDER2 mRNAs. The considerable expansion of LmSIDERs within 3′UTRs in an organism lacking transcriptional control and their role in regulating mRNA stability indicate that Leishmania have probably recycled these short retroposons to globally modulate the expression of a number of genes. To our knowledge, this is the first example in eukaryotes of the domestication and expansion of a family of mobile elements that have evolved to fulfill a critical cellular function

    A Deep Sequencing Approach to Comparatively Analyze the Transcriptome of Lifecycle Stages of the Filarial Worm, Brugia malayi

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    Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is a tropical disease affecting over 120 million people worldwide. More than 40 million people live with painful, disfiguring symptoms that can cause severe debilitation and social stigma. The disease is caused by infection with thread-like filarial nematodes (roundworms) that have a complex parasitic lifecycle involving both human and mosquito hosts. In the study, the authors profiled the transcriptome (the set of genes transcribed into messenger RNA rather than all of those in the genome) of the human filarial worm Brugia malayi in different lifecyle stages using deep sequencing technology. The analysis revealed major transitions in RNA expression from eggs through larval stages to adults. Using statistical approaches, the authors identified groups of genes with distinct life stage dependent transcriptional patterns, with particular emphasis on genes displaying sex-biased or germline-enriched patterns and those displaying significant changes during larval development. This study presents a first comprehensive analysis of the lifecycle transcriptome of B. malayi, providing fundamental molecular information that should help researchers better understand parasite biology and could provide clues for the development of more effective interventions

    Use of a multi-virus array for the study of human viral and retroviral pathogens: gene expression studies and ChIP-chip analysis

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    BACKGROUND: Since the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) twenty years ago, AIDS has become one of the most studied diseases. A number of viruses have subsequently been identified to contribute to the pathogenesis of HIV and its opportunistic infections and cancers. Therefore, a multi-virus array containing eight human viruses implicated in AIDS pathogenesis was developed and its efficacy in various applications was characterized. RESULTS: The amplified open reading frames (ORFs) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1, human T cell leukemia virus types 1 and 2, hepatitis C virus, Epstein-Barr virus, human herpesvirus 6A and 6B, and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus were spotted on glass slides and hybridized to DNA and RNA samples. Using a random priming method for labeling genomic DNA or cDNA probes, we show specific detection of genomic viral DNA from cells infected with the human herpesviruses, and effectively demonstrate the inhibitory effects of a cellular cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor on viral gene expression in HIV-1 and KSHV latently infected cells. In addition, we coupled chromatin immunoprecipitation with the virus chip (ChIP-chip) to study cellular protein and DNA binding. CONCLUSIONS: An amplicon based virus chip representing eight human viruses was successfully used to identify each virus with little cross hybridization. Furthermore, the identity of both viruses was correctly determined in co-infected cells. The utility of the virus chip was demonstrated by a variety of expression studies. Additionally, this is the first demonstrated use of ChIP-chip analysis to show specific binding of proteins to viral DNA, which, importantly, did not require further amplification for detection

    Comparative analysis of the complete genome sequence of the California MSW strain of myxoma virus reveals potential host adaptations

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    Myxomatosis is a rapidly lethal disease of European rabbits that is caused by myxoma virus (MYXV). The introduction of a South American strain of MYXV into the European rabbit population of Australia is the classic case of host-pathogen coevolution following cross-species transmission. The most virulent strains of MYXV for European rabbits are the Californian viruses, found in the Pacific states of the United States and the Baja Peninsula, Mexico. The natural host of Californian MYXV is the brush rabbit, Sylvilagus bachmani. We determined the complete sequence of the MSW strain of Californian MYXV and performed a comparative analysis with other MYXV genomes. The MSW genome is larger than that of the South American Lausanne (type) strain of MYXV due to an expansion of the terminal inverted repeats (TIRs) of the genome, with duplication of the M156R, M154L, M153R, M152R, and M151R genes and part of the M150R gene from the right-hand (RH) end of the genome at the left-hand (LH) TIR. Despite the extreme virulence of MSW, no novel genes were identified; five genes were disrupted by multiple indels or mutations to the ATG start codon, including two genes, M008.1L/R and M152R, with major virulence functions in European rabbits, and a sixth gene, M000.5L/R, was absent. The loss of these gene functions suggests that S. bachmani is a relatively recent host for MYXV and that duplication of virulence genes in the TIRs, gene loss, or sequence variation in other genes can compensate for the loss of M008.1L/R and M152R in infections of European rabbits.This work was funded in part by grant R01 AI093804 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. E.C.H. was supported by an NHMRC Australia Fellowship, and D.C.T. was supported by an ARC Future Fellowship