Distinct DNA exit and packaging portals in the virus Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus.

Department of Organic Chemistry, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 11.77). 06/2008; 6(5):e114. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060114
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Icosahedral double-stranded DNA viruses use a single portal for genome delivery and packaging. The extensive structural similarity revealed by such portals in diverse viruses, as well as their invariable positioning at a unique icosahedral vertex, led to the consensus that a particular, highly conserved vertex-portal architecture is essential for viral DNA translocations. Here we present an exception to this paradigm by demonstrating that genome delivery and packaging in the virus Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus occur through two distinct portals. By using high-resolution techniques, including electron tomography and cryo-scanning electron microscopy, we show that Mimivirus genome delivery entails a large-scale conformational change of the capsid, whereby five icosahedral faces open up. This opening, which occurs at a unique vertex of the capsid that we coined the "stargate", allows for the formation of a massive membrane conduit through which the viral DNA is released. A transient aperture centered at an icosahedral face distal to the DNA delivery site acts as a non-vertex DNA packaging portal. In conjunction with comparative genomic studies, our observations imply a viral packaging pathway akin to bacterial DNA segregation, which might be shared by diverse internal membrane-containing viruses.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Genome encapsidation is an essential step in the life cycle of viruses. Viruses either use some of the most powerful ATP-dependent motors to compel the genetic material into the preformed capsid or make use of the positively charged proteins to bind and condense the negatively charged genome in an energy-independent manner. While the former is a hallmark of large DNA viruses, the latter is commonly seen in small DNA and RNA viruses. Discoveries of many complex giant viruses such as mimivirus, megavirus, pandoravirus, etc., belonging to the nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) superfamily have changed the perception of genome packaging in viruses. From what little we have understood so far, it seems that the genome packaging mechanism in NCLDVs has nothing in common with other well-characterized viral packaging systems such as the portal-terminase system or the energy-independent system. Recent findings suggest that in giant viruses, the genome segregation and packaging processes are more intricately coupled than those of other viral systems. Interestingly, giant viral packaging systems also seem to possess features that are analogous to bacterial and archaeal chromosome segregation. Although there is a lot of diversity in terms of host range, type of genome, and genome size among viruses, they all seem to use three major types of independent innovations to accomplish genome encapsidation. Here, we have made an attempt to comprehensively review all the known viral genome packaging systems, including the one that is operative in giant viruses, by proposing a simple and expanded classification system that divides the viral packaging systems into three large groups (types I–III) on the basis of the mechanism employed and the relatedness of the major packaging proteins. Known variants within each group have been further classified into subgroups to reflect their unique adaptations.
    Virology 10/2014; · 3.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There are several ways that our species might try to send a message to another species separated from us by space and/or time. Synthetic biology might be used to write an epitaph to our species, or simply "Kilroy was here", in the genome of a bacterium via the patterns of either (1) the codons to exploit Life's non-equilibrium character or (2) the bases themselves to exploit Life's quasi-equilibrium character. We suggest here how DNA movies might be designed using such patterns. We also suggest that a search for mechanisms to create and preserve such patterns might lead to a better understanding of modern cells. Finally, we argue that the cutting-edge microbiology and synthetic biology needed for the Kilroy project would put origin-of-life studies in the vanguard of research.
    Life (Basel, Switzerland). 01/2011; 1(1).
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In 2003, Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus (APMV) was first described and began to impact researchers around the world, due to its structural and genetic complexity. This virus founded the family Mimiviridae. In recent years, several new giant viruses have been isolated from different environments and specimens. Giant virus research is in its initial phase and information that may arise in the coming years may change current conceptions of life, diversity and evolution. Thus, this review aims to condense the studies conducted so far about the features and peculiarities of APMV, from its discovery to its clinical relevance.
    Virology Journal 06/2014; 11(1):120. · 2.09 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 20, 2014