April 21, 2020  |  

Virus-host coexistence in phytoplankton through the genomic lens

Phytoplankton-virus interactions are major determinants of geochemical cycles in the oceans. Viruses are responsible for the redirection of carbon and nutrients away from larger organisms back towards microorganisms via the lysis of microalgae in a process coined the “viral shunt”. Virus-host interactions are generally expected to follow “boom and bust” dynamics, whereby a numerically dominant strain is lysed and replaced by a virus resistant strain. Here, we isolated a microalga and its infective nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) concomitantly from the environment in the surface NW Mediterranean Sea, Ostreococcus mediterraneus, and show continuous growth in culture of both the microalga and the virus. Evolution experiments through single cell bottlenecks demonstrate that, in the absence of the virus, susceptible cells evolve from one ancestral resistant single cell, and vice-versa; that is that resistant cells evolve from one ancestral susceptible cell. This provides evidence that the observed sustained viral production is the consequence of a minority of virus-susceptible cells. The emergence of these cells is explained by low-level phase switching between virus-resistant and virus-susceptible phenotypes, akin to a bet hedging strategy. Whole genome sequencing and analysis of the ~14 Mb microalga and the ~200 kb virus points towards ancient speciation of the microalga within the Ostreococcus species complex and frequent gene exchanges between prasinoviruses infecting Ostreococcus species. Re-sequencing of one susceptible strain demonstrated that the phase switch involved a large 60 Kb deletion of one chromosome. This chromosome is an outlier chromosome compared to the streamlined, gene dense, GC-rich standard chromosomes, as it contains many repeats and few orthologous genes. While this chromosome has been described in three different genera, its size increments have been previously associated to antiviral immunity and resistance in another species from the same genus. Mathematical modelling of this mechanism predicts microalga-virus population dynamics consistent with the observation of continuous growth of both virus and microalga. Altogether, our results suggest a previously overlooked strategy in phytoplankton-virus interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Medusavirus, a Novel Large DNA Virus Discovered from Hot Spring Water.

Recent discoveries of new large DNA viruses reveal high diversity in their morphologies, genetic repertoires, and replication strategies. Here, we report the novel features of medusavirus, a large DNA virus newly isolated from hot spring water in Japan. Medusavirus, with a diameter of 260?nm, shows a T=277 icosahedral capsid with unique spherical-headed spikes on its surface. It has a 381-kb genome encoding 461 putative proteins, 86 of which have their closest homologs in Acanthamoeba, whereas 279 (61%) are orphan genes. The virus lacks the genes encoding DNA topoisomerase II and RNA polymerase, showing that DNA replication takes place in the host nucleus, whereas the progeny virions are assembled in the cytoplasm. Furthermore, the medusavirus genome harbored genes for all five types of histones (H1, H2A, H2B, H3, and H4) and one DNA polymerase, which are phylogenetically placed at the root of the eukaryotic clades. In contrast, the host amoeba encoded many medusavirus homologs, including the major capsid protein. These facts strongly suggested that amoebae are indeed the most promising natural hosts of medusavirus, and that lateral gene transfers have taken place repeatedly and bidirectionally between the virus and its host since the early stage of their coevolution. Medusavirus reflects the traces of direct evolutionary interactions between the virus and eukaryotic hosts, which may be caused by sharing the DNA replication compartment and by evolutionarily long lasting virus-host relationships. Based on its unique morphological characteristics and phylogenomic relationships with other known large DNA viruses, we propose that medusavirus represents a new family, MedusaviridaeIMPORTANCE We have isolated a new nucleocytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) from hot spring water in Japan, named medusavirus. This new NCLDV is phylogenetically placed at the root of the eukaryotic clades based on the phylogenies of several key genes, including that encoding DNA polymerase, and its genome surprisingly encodes the full set of histone homologs. Furthermore, its laboratory host, Acanthamoeba castellanii, encodes many medusavirus homologs in its genome, including the major capsid protein, suggesting that the amoeba is the genuine natural host from ancient times of this newly described virus and that lateral gene transfers have repeatedly occurred between the virus and amoeba. These results suggest that medusavirus is a unique NCLDV preserving ancient footprints of evolutionary interactions with its hosts, thus providing clues to elucidate the evolution of NCLDVs, eukaryotes, and virus-host interaction. Based on the dissimilarities with other known NCLDVs, we propose that medusavirus represents a new viral family, Medusaviridae.Copyright © 2019 Yoshikawa et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Crustacean Genome Exploration Reveals the Evolutionary Origin of White Spot Syndrome Virus.

White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a crustacean-infecting, double-stranded DNA virus and is the most serious viral pathogen in the global shrimp industry. WSSV is the sole recognized member of the family Nimaviridae, and the lack of genomic data on other nimaviruses has obscured the evolutionary history of WSSV. Here, we investigated the evolutionary history of WSSV by characterizing WSSV relatives hidden in host genomic data. We surveyed 14 host crustacean genomes and identified five novel nimaviral genomes. Comparative genomic analysis of Nimaviridae identified 28 “core genes” that are ubiquitously conserved in Nimaviridae; unexpected conservation of 13 uncharacterized proteins highlighted yet-unknown essential functions underlying the nimavirus replication cycle. The ancestral Nimaviridae gene set contained five baculoviral per os infectivity factor homologs and a sulfhydryl oxidase homolog, suggesting a shared phylogenetic origin of Nimaviridae and insect-associated double-stranded DNA viruses. Moreover, we show that novel gene acquisition and subsequent amplification reinforced the unique accessory gene repertoire of WSSV. Expansion of unique envelope protein and nonstructural virulence-associated genes may have been the key genomic event that made WSSV such a deadly pathogen.IMPORTANCE WSSV is the deadliest viral pathogen threatening global shrimp aquaculture. The evolutionary history of WSSV has remained a mystery, because few WSSV relatives, or nimaviruses, had been reported. Our aim was to trace the history of WSSV using the genomes of novel nimaviruses hidden in host genome data. We demonstrate that WSSV emerged from a diverse family of crustacean-infecting large DNA viruses. By comparing the genomes of WSSV and its relatives, we show that WSSV possesses an expanded set of unique host-virus interaction-related genes. This extensive gene gain may have been the key genomic event that made WSSV such a deadly pathogen. Moreover, conservation of insect-infecting virus protein homologs suggests a common phylogenetic origin of crustacean-infecting Nimaviridae and other insect-infecting DNA viruses. Our work redefines the previously poorly characterized crustacean virus family and reveals the ancient genomic events that preordained the emergence of a devastating shrimp pathogen.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Gammaherpesvirus Readthrough Transcription Generates a Long Non-Coding RNA That Is Regulated by Antisense miRNAs and Correlates with Enhanced Lytic Replication In Vivo.

Gammaherpesviruses, including the human pathogens Epstein?Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) are oncogenic viruses that establish lifelong infections in hosts and are associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases and lymphomas. Recent studies have shown that the majority of the mammalian genome is transcribed and gives rise to numerous long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Likewise, the large double-stranded DNA virus genomes of herpesviruses undergo pervasive transcription, including the expression of many as yet uncharacterized lncRNAs. Murine gammaperherpesvirus 68 (MHV68, MuHV-4, ?HV68) is a natural pathogen of rodents, and is genetically and pathogenically related to EBV and KSHV, providing a highly tractable model for studies of gammaherpesvirus biology and pathogenesis. Through the integrated use of parallel data sets from multiple sequencing platforms, we previously resolved transcripts throughout the MHV68 genome, including at least 144 novel transcript isoforms. Here, we sought to molecularly validate novel transcripts identified within the M3/M2 locus, which harbors genes that code for the chemokine binding protein M3, the latency B cell signaling protein M2, and 10 microRNAs (miRNAs). Using strand-specific northern blots, we validated the presence of M3-04, a 3.91 kb polyadenylated transcript that initiates at the M3 transcription start site and reads through the M3 open reading frame (ORF), the M3 poly(a) signal sequence, and the M2 ORF. This unexpected transcript was solely localized to the nucleus, strongly suggesting that it is not translated and instead may function as a lncRNA. Use of an MHV68 mutant lacking two M3-04-antisense pre-miRNA stem loops resulted in highly increased expression of M3-04 and increased virus replication in the lungs of infected mice, demonstrating a key role for these RNAs in regulation of lytic infection. Together these findings suggest the possibility of a tripartite regulatory relationship between the lncRNA M3-04, antisense miRNAs, and the latency gene M2.


April 21, 2020  |  

Endogenous pararetrovirus sequences are widely present in Citrinae genomes.

Endogenous pararetroviruses (EPRVs) are characterized in several plant genomes and their biological effects have been reported. In this study, hundreds of EPRV segments were identified in six Citrinae genomes. A total of 1034 EPRV segments were identified in the genomes of sweet orange, 2036 in pummelo, 598 in clementine mandarin, 752 in Ichang papeda, 2060 in citron and 245 in atalantia. Genomic analysis indicated that EPRV segments tend to cluster as hot spots in the genomes, particularly on chromosome 2 and 5. Large numbers of simple repeats and transposable elements were identified in the 2-kb flanking regions of the EPRV segments. Comparative genomic analysis and PCR experiments showed that there are highly conserved EPRV segments and species-specific EPRV segments between the Citrinae genomes. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that the integration events of EPRVs could initiate in a common progenitor of Citrinae species and repeatedly occur during the Citrinae divergence.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Analyses of four new Caulobacter Phicbkviruses indicate independent lineages.

Bacteriophages with genomes larger than 200 kbp are considered giant phages, and the giant Phicbkviruses are the most frequently isolated Caulobacter crescentus phages. In this study, we compare six bacteriophage genomes that differ from the genomes of the majority of Phicbkviruses. Four of these genomes are much larger than those of the rest of the Phicbkviruses, with genome sizes that are more than 250 kbp. A comparison of 16 Phicbkvirus genomes identified a ‘core genome’ of 69 genes that is present in all of these Phicbkvirus genomes, as well as shared accessory genes and genes that are unique for each phage. Most of the core genes are clustered into the regions coding for structural proteins or those involved in DNA replication. A phylogenetic analysis indicated that these 16 CaulobacterPhicbkvirus genomes are related, but they represent four distinct branches of the Phicbkvirus genomic tree with distantly related branches sharing little nucleotide homology. In contrast, pairwise comparisons within each branch of the phylogenetic tree showed that more than 80?% of the entire genome is shared among phages within a group. This conservation of the genomes within each branch indicates that horizontal gene transfer events between the groups are rare. Therefore, the Phicbkvirus genus consists of at least four different phylogenetic branches that are evolving independently from one another. One of these branches contains a 27-gene inversion relative to the other three branches. Also, an analysis of the tRNA genes showed that they are relatively mobile within the Phicbkvirus genus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Linking CRISPR-Cas9 interference in cassava to the evolution of editing-resistant geminiviruses.

Geminiviruses cause damaging diseases in several important crop species. However, limited progress has been made in developing crop varieties resistant to these highly diverse DNA viruses. Recently, the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 system has been transferred to plants to target and confer immunity to geminiviruses. In this study, we use CRISPR-Cas9 interference in the staple food crop cassava with the aim of engineering resistance to African cassava mosaic virus, a member of a widespread and important family (Geminiviridae) of plant-pathogenic DNA viruses.Our results show that the CRISPR system fails to confer effective resistance to the virus during glasshouse inoculations. Further, we find that between 33 and 48% of edited virus genomes evolve a conserved single-nucleotide mutation that confers resistance to CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage. We also find that in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana the replication of the novel, mutant virus is dependent on the presence of the wild-type virus.Our study highlights the risks associated with CRISPR-Cas9 virus immunity in eukaryotes given that the mutagenic nature of the system generates viral escapes in a short time period. Our in-depth analysis of virus populations also represents a template for future studies analyzing virus escape from anti-viral CRISPR transgenics. This is especially important for informing regulation of such actively mutagenic applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in agriculture.


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