How viruses con bugs into working for themJanuary 27th, 2012 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 27 (IANS) Some of the viruses are real con artists. They trick new bugs with genetic material filched from their previous bacterial hosts into working for them, reveals a study.
The con occurs when a grifter virus injects its DNA into a bacterium living in a phosphorus-starved region of the ocean. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers are the very first to document the virus-bacteria relationship.
Such bacteria, stressed by the lack of phosphorus (which they use as a nutrient), have their phosphorus-gathering machinery in high gear. The virus senses the host’s stress and offers what seems like a helping hand: bacterial genes nearly identical to the host’s own that enable the host to gather more phosphorus, the journal Current Biology reported.
The host uses those genes - but the additional phosphorus goes primarily toward supporting the virus’ replication of its own DNA, a university statement said.
Once that process is complete (about 10 hours after infection), the virus explodes its host, releasing progeny viruses back into the ocean where they can invade other bacteria and repeat this process. The additional phosphorus-gathering genes provided by the virus keep its reproduction cycle on schedule.
In essence, the virus (or phage) is co-opting a very sophisticated component of the host’s regulatory machinery to enhance its own reproduction - something never before documented in a virus-bacteria relationship.
“This is the first demonstration of a virus of any kind - even those heavily studied in biomedical research - exploiting this kind of regulatory machinery in a host cell,” said Sallie (Penny) W. Chisholm, professor of civil and environmental engineering and biology at MIT and principal study investigator.
- Study examines how viruses attack bacteria - Nov 19, 2009
- Marine microbes fend enemies with antibiotics - Sep 07, 2012
- Viral attack opens up new ways to treat bacterial infections - Nov 19, 2009
- Antibiotic resistance spreads rapidly between bacteria: Study - Apr 12, 2011
- The gut's 'friendly' viruses discovered - Jul 15, 2010
- Bacteria more likely to adopt 'loner' genes than well-connected ones - Mar 17, 2011
- Secret of bacteria's immune system unlocked - Nov 05, 2010
- Rogue DNA could trip the heart - Apr 26, 2012
- Discovery to help newer ways of killing lethal E.coli bacteria - Dec 09, 2008
- Pistachios help growth of beneficial gut bugs - Apr 26, 2012
- Marine viruses may contribute to ocean energy - Aug 30, 2009
- How bacteria developed resistance to antibiotics - Dec 28, 2010
- Thieving bugs more drug resistant - Mar 17, 2011
- Engineered viruses may help fight drug-resistant superbugs - Mar 03, 2009
- Bugs filch copper to spread urinary infections - Jul 09, 2012
Tags: bacteria, bacterial genes, bacterium, biomedical research, chisholm, con artists, current biology, dna, genetic material, grifter, helping hand, host cell, institute of technology, massachusetts institute of technology, phage, principal study, progeny, regulatory machinery, technology researchers, virus replication