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Novel Viral DNA Polymerases From Metagenomes Suggest Genomic Sources of Strand-Displacing Biochemical PhenotypesViruses are the most abundant and diverse biological entities on the planet and constitute a significant proportion of Earth’s genetic diversity. Most of this diversity is not represented by isolated viral-host systems and has only been observed through sequencing of viral metagenomes (viromes) from environmental samples. Viromes provide snapshots of viral genetic potential, and a wealth of information on viral community ecology. These data also provide opportunities for exploring the biochemistry of novel viral enzymes. The in vitro biochemical characteristics of novel viral DNA polymerases were explored, testing hypothesized differences in polymerase biochemistry according to protein sequence phylogeny. Forty-eight viral DNA Polymerase I (PolA) proteins from estuarine viromes, hot spring metagenomes, and reference viruses, encompassing a broad representation of currently known diversity, were synthesized, expressed, and purified. Novel functionality was shown in multiple PolAs. Intriguingly, some of the estuarine viral polymerases demonstrated moderate to strong innate DNA strand displacement activity at high enzyme concentration. Strand-displacing polymerases have important technological applications where isothermal reactions are desirable. Bioinformatic investigation of genes neighboring these strand displacing polymerases found associations with SNF2 helicase-associated proteins. The specific function of SNF2 family enzymes is unknown for prokaryotes and viruses. In eukaryotes, SNF2 enzymes have chromatin remodelingmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2023
ABSTRACT Viral infection exerts selection pressure on marine microbes, as virus-induced cell lysis causes 20 to 50% of cell mortality, resulting in fluxes of biomass into oceanic dissolved organic matter. Archaeal and bacterial populations can defend against viral infection using the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated (Cas) system, which relies on specific matching between a spacer sequence and a viral gene. If a CRISPR spacer match to any gene within a viral genome is equally effective in preventing lysis, no viral genes should be preferentially matched by CRISPR spacers. However, if there are differences in effectiveness, certain viral genes may demonstrate a greater frequency of CRISPR spacer matches. Indeed, homology search analyses of bacterioplankton CRISPR spacer sequences against virioplankton sequences revealed preferential matching of replication proteins, nucleic acid binding proteins, and viral structural proteins. Positive selection pressure for effective viral defense is one parsimonious explanation for these observations. CRISPR spacers from virioplankton metagenomes preferentially matched methyltransferase and phage integrase genes within virioplankton sequences. These virioplankton CRISPR spacers may assist infected host cells in defending against competing phage. Analyses also revealed that half of the spacer-matched viral genes were unknown, some genes matched several spacers, and some spacers matchedmore »