The vir gene of bacteriophage MAV1 confers resistance to phage infection on Mycoplasma arthritidis.
Lysogenization of Mycoplasma arthritidis with the MAV1 bacteriophage increases the virulence of the mycoplasma in rats. The MAV1 vir gene is one of only two constitutively transcribed phage genes in the lysogen. We show here that Vir is a lipoprotein and is located on the outer surface of the cell membrane. To investigate whether Vir is a virulence factor, the vir gene was cloned into the transposon vector Tn4001T and inserted in the genome of the nonlysogen strain 158. The virulence of the resulting transformants was no different from that of the parent strain. Interestingly, all vir-containing transformants were resistant to infection by MAV1. Vir had no effect on MAV1 adsorption. We conclude that Vir is not a virulence factor but functions to exclude superinfecting phage, possibly by blocking the injection of phage DNA into the bacterial cytoplasm. (+info)
Common ancestry of herpesviruses and tailed DNA bacteriophages.
Comparative analysis of capsid protein structures in the eukaryote-infecting herpesviruses (Herpesviridae) and the prokaryote-infecting tailed DNA bacteriophages (Caudovirales) revealed a characteristic fold that is restricted to these two virus lineages and is indicative of common ancestry. This fold not only serves as a major architectural element in capsid stability but also enables the conformational flexibility observed during viral assembly and maturation. On the basis of this and other emerging relationships, it seems increasingly likely that the very diverse collection of extant viruses may have arisen from a relatively small number of primordial progenitors. (+info)
Prevalence and evolution of core photosystem II genes in marine cyanobacterial viruses and their hosts.
Cyanophages (cyanobacterial viruses) are important agents of horizontal gene transfer among marine cyanobacteria, the numerically dominant photosynthetic organisms in the oceans. Some cyanophage genomes carry and express host-like photosynthesis genes, presumably to augment the host photosynthetic machinery during infection. To study the prevalence and evolutionary dynamics of this phenomenon, 33 cultured cyanophages of known family and host range and viral DNA from field samples were screened for the presence of two core photosystem reaction center genes, psbA and psbD. Combining this expanded dataset with published data for nine other cyanophages, we found that 88% of the phage genomes contain psbA, and 50% contain both psbA and psbD. The psbA gene was found in all myoviruses and Prochlorococcus podoviruses, but could not be amplified from Prochlorococcus siphoviruses or Synechococcus podoviruses. Nearly all of the phages that encoded both psbA and psbD had broad host ranges. We speculate that the presence or absence of psbA in a phage genome may be determined by the length of the latent period of infection. Whether it also carries psbD may reflect constraints on coupling of viral- and host-encoded PsbA-PsbD in the photosynthetic reaction center across divergent hosts. Phylogenetic clustering patterns of these genes from cultured phages suggest that whole genes have been transferred from host to phage in a discrete number of events over the course of evolution (four for psbA, and two for psbD), followed by horizontal and vertical transfer between cyanophages. Clustering patterns of psbA and psbD from Synechococcus cells were inconsistent with other molecular phylogenetic markers, suggesting genetic exchanges involving Synechococcus lineages. Signatures of intragenic recombination, detected within the cyanophage gene pool as well as between hosts and phages in both directions, support this hypothesis. The analysis of cyanophage psbA and psbD genes from field populations revealed significant sequence diversity, much of which is represented in our cultured isolates. Collectively, these findings show that photosynthesis genes are common in cyanophages and that significant genetic exchanges occur from host to phage, phage to host, and within the phage gene pool. This generates genetic diversity among the phage, which serves as a reservoir for their hosts, and in turn influences photosystem evolution. (+info)
Characterization of a novel non-specific nuclease from thermophilic bacteriophage GBSV1.