Evolution of phage with chemically ambiguous proteomes. (9/58)

BACKGROUND: The widespread introduction of amino acid substitutions into organismal proteomes has occurred during natural evolution, but has been difficult to achieve by directed evolution. The adaptation of the translation apparatus represents one barrier, but the multiple mutations that may be required throughout a proteome in order to accommodate an alternative amino acid or analogue is an even more daunting problem. The evolution of a small bacteriophage proteome to accommodate an unnatural amino acid analogue can provide insights into the number and type of substitutions that individual proteins will require to retain functionality. RESULTS: The bacteriophage Qbeta initially grows poorly in the presence of the amino acid analogue 6-fluorotryptophan. After 25 serial passages, the fitness of the phage on the analogue was substantially increased; there was no loss of fitness when the evolved phage were passaged in the presence of tryptophan. Seven mutations were fixed throughout the phage in two independent lines of descent. None of the mutations changed a tryptophan residue. CONCLUSIONS: A relatively small number of mutations allowed an unnatural amino acid to be functionally incorporated into a highly interdependent set of proteins. These results support the 'ambiguous intermediate' hypothesis for the emergence of divergent genetic codes, in which the adoption of a new genetic code is preceded by the evolution of proteins that can simultaneously accommodate more than one amino acid at a given codon. It may now be possible to direct the evolution of organisms with novel genetic codes using methods that promote ambiguous intermediates.  (+info)

Nonmethylated CG motifs packaged into virus-like particles induce protective cytotoxic T cell responses in the absence of systemic side effects. (10/58)

DNA rich in nonmethylated CG motifs (CpGs) greatly facilitates induction of immune responses against coadministered Ags. CpGs are therefore among the most promising adjuvants known to date. Nevertheless, CpGs are characterized by two drawbacks. They have unfavorable pharmacokinetics and may exhibit systemic side effects, including splenomegaly. We show in this study that packaging CpGs into virus-like particles (VLPs) derived from the hepatitis B core Ag or the bacteriophage Qbeta is a simple and attractive method to reduce these two problems. CpGs packaged into VLPs are resistant to DNase I digestion, enhancing their stability. In addition, and in contrast to free CpGs, packaging CpGs prevents splenomegaly in mice, without affecting their immunostimulatory capacity. In fact, vaccination with CpG-loaded VLPs was able to induce high frequencies of peptide-specific CD8(+) T cells (4-14%), protected from infection with recombinant vaccinia viruses, and eradicated established solid fibrosarcoma tumors. Thus, packaging CpGs into VLPs improves both their immunogenicity and pharmacodynamics.  (+info)

Quantitative analysis of a parasitic antiviral strategy. (11/58)

We extended a computer simulation of viral intracellular growth to study a parasitic antiviral strategy that diverts the viral replicase toward parasite growth. This strategy inhibited virus growth over a wide range of conditions, while minimizing host cell perturbations. Such parasitic strategies may inhibit the development of drug-resistant virus strains.  (+info)

Replicable and recombinogenic RNAs. (12/58)

This paper summarizes results of the 40-year studies on replication and recombination of RNA molecules in the cell-free amplification system of bacteriophage Q. Special attention is paid to the molecular colony technique that has provided for the discovery of the nature of "spontaneous" RNA synthesis by Q replicase and of the ability of RNA molecules to spontaneously rearrange their sequences under physiological conditions. Also discussed is the impact of these data on the concept of RNA World and on the development of new in vitro cloning and diagnostic tools.  (+info)

Rapid response of marginal zone B cells to viral particles. (13/58)

Marginal zone (MZ) B cells are thought to be responsible for the first wave of Abs against bacterial Ags. In this study, we assessed the in vivo response of MZ B cells in mice immunized with viral particles derived from the RNA phage Qbeta. We found that both follicular (FO) and MZ B cells responded to immunization with viral particles. MZ B cells responded with slightly faster kinetics, but numerically, FO B cells dominated the response. B1 B cells responded similarly to MZ B cells. Both MZ and FO B cells underwent isotype switching, with MZ B cells again exhibiting faster kinetics. In fact, almost all Qbeta-specific MZ B cells expressed surface IgG by day 5. Histological analysis demonstrated that a population of activated B cells remain associated with the MZ, probably due to the elevated integrin levels expressed by these cells. Thus, both MZ and FO B cells respond with rapid proliferation to viral infection and both populations undergo isotype switching, but MZ B cells remain in the MZ and may be responsible for local Ab production, opsonizing pathogens entering the spleen.  (+info)

Viral RNA-directed RNA polymerases use diverse mechanisms to promote recombination between RNA molecules. (14/58)

An earlier developed purified cell-free system was used to explore the potential of two RNA-directed RNA polymerases (RdRps), Qbeta phage replicase and the poliovirus 3Dpol protein, to promote RNA recombination through a primer extension mechanism. The substrates of recombination were fragments of complementary strands of a Qbeta phage-derived RNA, such that if aligned at complementary 3'-termini and extended using one another as a template, they would produce replicable molecules detectable as RNA colonies grown in a Qbeta replicase-containing agarose. The results show that while 3Dpol efficiently extends the aligned fragments to produce the expected homologous recombinant sequences, only nonhomologous recombinants are generated by Qbeta replicase at a much lower yield and through a mechanism not involving the extension of RNA primers. It follows that the mechanisms of RNA recombination by poliovirus and Qbeta RdRps are quite different. The data favor an RNA transesterification reaction catalyzed by a conformation acquired by Qbeta replicase during RNA synthesis and provide a likely explanation for the very low frequency of homologous recombination in Qbeta phage.  (+info)

Complement receptors regulate differentiation of bone marrow plasma cell precursors expressing transcription factors Blimp-1 and XBP-1. (15/58)

Humoral immune responses are thought to be enhanced by complement-mediated recruitment of the CD21-CD19-CD81 coreceptor complex into the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) complex, which lowers the threshold of B cell activation and increases the survival and proliferative capacity of responding B cells. To investigate the role of the CD21-CD35 complement receptors in the generation of B cell memory, we analyzed the response against viral particles derived from the bacteriophage Qbeta in mice deficient in CD21-CD35 (Cr2(-/-)). Despite highly efficient induction of early antibody responses and germinal center (GC) reactions to immunization with Qbeta, Cr2(-/-) mice exhibited impaired antibody persistence paralleled by a strongly reduced development of bone marrow plasma cells. Surprisingly, antigen-specific memory B cells were essentially normal in these mice. In the absence of CD21-mediated costimulation, Qbeta-specific post-GC B cells failed to induce the transcriptional regulators Blimp-1 and XBP-1 driving plasma cell differentiation, and the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2, which resulted in failure to generate the precursor population of long-lived plasma cells residing in the bone marrow. These results suggest that complement receptors maintain antibody responses by delivery of differentiation and survival signals to precursors of bone marrow plasma cells.  (+info)

Complete genome sequence of the broad host range single-stranded RNA phage PRR1 places it in the Levivirus genus with characteristics shared with Alloleviviruses. (16/58)

Single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) bacteriophages of the family Leviviridae infect gram-negative bacteria. They are restricted to a single host genus. Phage PRR1 is an exception, having a broad host range due to the promiscuity of the receptor encoded by the IncP plasmid. Here we report the complete genome sequence of PRR1. Three proteins homologous with those of other ssRNA phages, i.e., maturation, coat, and replicase proteins, were identified. A fourth protein has a lysis function. Comparison of PRR1 with other members of the Leviviridae family places PRR1 in the genus Levivirus with some characteristics more similar to those of members of the genus Allolevivirus.  (+info)