skip to main content

Title: Unprecedented Diversity of ssDNA Phages from the Family Microviridae Detected within the Gut of a Protochordate Model Organism (Ciona robusta)
Phages (viruses that infect bacteria) play important roles in the gut ecosystem through infection of bacterial hosts, yet the gut virome remains poorly characterized. Mammalian gut viromes are dominated by double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) phages belonging to the order Caudovirales and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) phages belonging to the family Microviridae. Since the relative proportion of each of these phage groups appears to correlate with age and health status in humans, it is critical to understand both ssDNA and dsDNA phages in the gut. Building upon prior research describing dsDNA viruses in the gut of Ciona robusta, a marine invertebrate model system used to study gut microbial interactions, this study investigated ssDNA phages found in the Ciona gut. We identified 258 Microviridae genomes, which were dominated by novel members of the Gokushovirinae subfamily, but also represented several proposed phylogenetic groups (Alpavirinae, Aravirinae, Group D, Parabacteroides prophages, and Pequeñovirus) and a novel group. Comparative analyses between Ciona specimens with full and cleared guts, as well as the surrounding water, indicated that Ciona retains a distinct and highly diverse community of ssDNA phages. This study significantly expands the known diversity within the Microviridae family and demonstrates the promise of Ciona as a model system more » for investigating their role in animal health. « less
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Background

    Viruses strongly influence microbial population dynamics and ecosystem functions. However, our ability to quantitatively evaluate those viral impacts is limited to the few cultivated viruses and double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viral genomes captured in quantitative viral metagenomes (viromes). This leaves the ecology of non-dsDNA viruses nearly unknown, including single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses that have been frequently observed in viromes, but not quantified due to amplification biases in sequencing library preparations (Multiple Displacement Amplification, Linker Amplification or Tagmentation).


    Here we designed mock viral communities including both ssDNA and dsDNA viruses to evaluate the capability of a sequencing library preparation approach including an Adaptase step prior to Linker Amplification for quantitative amplification of both dsDNA and ssDNA templates. We then surveyed aquatic samples to provide first estimates of the abundance of ssDNA viruses.


    Mock community experiments confirmed the biased nature of existing library preparation methods for ssDNA templates (either largely enriched or selected against) and showed that the protocol using Adaptase plus Linker Amplification yielded viromes that were ±1.8-fold quantitative for ssDNA and dsDNA viruses. Application of this protocol to community virus DNA from three freshwater and three marine samples revealed that ssDNA viruses as a whole represent only a minor fraction (<5%)more »of DNA virus communities, though individual ssDNA genomes, both eukaryote-infecting Circular Rep-Encoding Single-Stranded DNA (CRESS-DNA) viruses and bacteriophages from theMicroviridaefamily, can be among the most abundant viral genomes in a sample.


    Together these findings provide empirical data for a new virome library preparation protocol, and a first estimate of ssDNA virus abundance in aquatic systems.

    « less
  2. Sandri-Goldin, Rozanne M. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Most icosahedral viruses condense their genomes into volumetrically constrained capsids. However, concurrent genome biosynthesis and packaging are specific to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses. ssDNA genome packaging combines elements found in both double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and ssRNA systems. Similar to dsDNA viruses, the genome is packaged into a preformed capsid. Like ssRNA viruses, there are numerous capsid-genome associations. In ssDNA microviruses, the DNA-binding protein J guides the genome between 60 icosahedrally ordered DNA binding pockets. It also partially neutralizes the DNA’s negative phosphate backbone. ϕX174-related microviruses, such as G4 and α3, have J proteins that differ in length and charge organization. This suggests that interchanging J proteins could alter the path used to guide DNA in the capsid. Previously, a ϕXG4J chimera, in which the ϕX174 J gene was replaced with the G4 gene, was characterized. It displayed lethal packaging defects, which resulted in procapsids being removed from productive assembly. Here, we report the characterization of another inviable chimera, ϕXα3J. Unlike ϕXG4J, ϕXα3J efficiently packaged DNA but produced noninfectious particles. These particles displayed a reduced ability to attach to host cells, suggesting that internal DNA organization could distort the capsid’s outer surface. Mutations that restored viability altered J-coat protein contactmore »sites. These results provide evidence that the organization of ssDNA can affect both packaging and postpackaging phenomena. IMPORTANCE ssDNA viruses utilize icosahedrally ordered protein-nucleic acids interactions to guide and organize their genomes into preformed shells. As previously demonstrated, chaotic genome-capsid associations can inhibit ϕX174 packaging by destabilizing packaging complexes. However, the consequences of poorly organized genomes may extend beyond the packaging reaction. As demonstrated herein, it can lead to uninfectious packaged particles. Thus, ssDNA genomes should be considered an integral and structural virion component, affecting the properties of the entire particle, which includes the capsid’s outer surface.« less
  3. Wayne, Marta (Ed.)
    Abstract The Ichneumonoidea (Ichneumonidae and Braconidae) is an incredibly diverse superfamily of parasitoid wasps that includes species that produce virus-like entities in their reproductive tracts to promote successful parasitism of host insects. Research on these entities has traditionally focused upon two viral genera Bracovirus (in Braconidae) and Ichnovirus (in Ichneumonidae). These viruses are produced using genes known collectively as endogenous viral elements (EVEs) that represent historical, now heritable viral integration events in wasp genomes. Here, new genome sequence assemblies for 11 species and 6 publicly available genomes from the Ichneumonoidea were screened with the goal of identifying novel EVEs and characterizing the breadth of species in lineages with known EVEs. Exhaustive similarity searches combined with the identification of ancient core genes revealed sequences from both known and novel EVEs. One species harbored a novel, independently derived EVE related to a divergent large double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) virus that manipulates behavior in other hymenopteran species. Although bracovirus or ichnovirus EVEs were identified as expected in three species, the absence of ichnoviruses in several species suggests that they are independently derived and present in two younger, less widespread lineages than previously thought. Overall, this study presents a novel bioinformatic approach for EVE discoverymore »in genomes and shows that three divergent virus families (nudiviruses, the ancestors of ichnoviruses, and Leptopilina boulardi Filamentous Virus-like viruses) are recurrently acquired as EVEs in parasitoid wasps. Virus acquisition in the parasitoid wasps is a common process that has occurred in many more than two lineages from a diverse range of arthropod-infecting dsDNA viruses.« less
  4. A sensitive label-free fluorescence assay for monitoring T4 polynucleotide kinase (T4 PNK) activity and inhibition was developed based on a coupled λ exonuclease cleavage reaction and SYBR Green I. In this assay, a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) was stained with SYBR Green I and used as a substrate for T4 PNK. After the 5′-hydroxyl termini of the dsDNA was phosphorylated by the T4 PNK, the coupled λ exonuclease began to digest the dsDNA to form mononucletides and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). At this moment, the fluorescence intensity of the SYBR Green I decreased because of less affinity with ssDNA than dsDNA. The decreasing extent was proportional to the concentration of the T4 PNK. After optimization of the detection conditions, including the concentration of ATP, amount of λ exonuclease and reaction time, the activity of T4 PNK was monitored by the fluorescence measurement, with the limit of detection of 0.11 U mL −1 and good linear correlation between 0.25–1.00 U mL −1 ( R 2 = 0.9896). In this assay, no label was needed for fluorescence detection. Moreover, the inhibition behaviors of the T4 PNK's inhibitors were evaluated by this assay. The result indicated the potential of using this assay for monitoring ofmore »the phosphorylation-related process.« less
  5. Abstract Bloom helicase (BLM) and its orthologs are essential for the maintenance of genome integrity. BLM defects represent the underlying cause of Bloom Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that is marked by strong cancer predisposition. BLM deficient cells accumulate extensive chromosomal aberrations stemming from dysfunctions in homologous recombination (HR). BLM participates in several HR stages and helps dismantle potentially harmful HR intermediates. However, much remains to be learned about the molecular mechanisms of these BLM-mediated regulatory effects. Here, we use DNA curtains to directly visualize the activity of BLM helicase on single molecules of DNA. Our data show that BLM is a robust helicase capable of rapidly (∼70–80 base pairs per second) unwinding extensive tracts (∼8–10 kilobases) of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA). Importantly, we find no evidence for BLM activity on single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) that is bound by replication protein A (RPA). Likewise, our results show that BLM can neither associate with nor translocate on ssDNA that is bound by the recombinase protein RAD51. Moreover, our data reveal that the presence of RAD51 also blocks BLM translocation on dsDNA substrates. We discuss our findings within the context of potential regulator roles for BLM helicase during DNA replication and repair.