Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Viruses Evolve To Play By Host Rules

Date:
March 6, 2008
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
It appears that viruses that infect a bacterium spell their own genes in the same way the bacterium does, obeying the rules of its host and demonstrating co-evolutionary behavior. Researchers analyzed patterns of codon usage across 74 bacteriophages using the concept of a "genome landscape," a method of visualizing long-range patterns in a genome sequence.

Biologists at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University have examined the complete genomes of viruses that infect the bacteria E. coli, P. aeruginosa and L. lactis and have found that many of these viral genomes exhibit codon bias, the tendency to preferentially encode a protein with a particular spelling.

Researchers analyzed patterns of codon usage across 74 bacteriophages using the concept of a "genome landscape," a method of visualizing long-range patterns in a genome sequence.

Their findings extend the translational theory of codon bias to the viral kingdom, demonstrating that the viral genome is selected to obey the preferences of its host.

“The host bacterium is exerting a strong evolutionary pressure on the virus,” Joshua Plotkin, lead author and assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Penn, said. “This happens because a virus must hijack the machinery of its host in order to reproduce. We are seeing that viruses are forced to adopt the particular codon choices preferred by the bacterium they infect.”

The study found that each bacterium has a preferred way of spelling its genes. And it appears that viruses that infect a bacterium spell their own genes in the same way the bacterium does, obeying the rules of its host and demonstrating co-evolutionary behavior.

“Like a bee and a flower, an example of co-evolution between two large organisms, the same fundamental biological processes operate between two small organisms, as reflected in their genome sequences,” Plotkin said.

Moreover, the team found that the degree of codon bias varies across the viral genome. By comparing the observed genomes to randomly drawn genomes, the team demonstrated that the regions of high codon bias in these viral genomes often coincide with regions encoding structural proteins. Thus, the proteins that a virus needs to produce at high levels utilize the same encoding as its host organism does for highly expressed proteins.

Any protein can be encoded by multiple, synonymous spellings, but organisms typically prefer one spelling over others, a phenomenon known as codon bias. Codon bias is generally understood to result from selection for the synonymous spelling that maximizes the rate and accuracy of protein production.

The study, appearing in the current issue of the journal Public Library of Science Computational Biology, was performed by Plotkin and Grzegorz Kudla of the Department of Biology in the School of Afrts and Sciences at Penn and Julius Lucks and David Nelson of Harvard University.

The study was supported by grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Viruses Evolve To Play By Host Rules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303190539.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2008, March 6). Viruses Evolve To Play By Host Rules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303190539.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Viruses Evolve To Play By Host Rules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303190539.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins