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Rohrmann GF. Baculovirus Molecular Biology: Second Edition [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2011.

Cover of Baculovirus Molecular Biology

Baculovirus Molecular Biology: Second Edition [Internet].

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, PhD.

Created: .

Since the publication of the first edition of Baculovirus Molecular Biology two years ago, there have been significant advances in several areas of baculovirus research, most particularly in the characterization of gene function using bacmid technology. In addition, the long sought goal of determining the crystal structure polyhedrin was also recently accomplished. I have also added an additional chapter (Chapter 11) entitled ‘Baculoviruses, retroviruses, and insect cells’. This is timely, not only because of my long standing interest in this relationship of baculoviruses and retroviruses, but also because of the significant advances that have occurred in the past two years on the cellular mechanisms by which endogenous retroelements are silenced in normal cells. I also found that many publishers allow online use of their figures without charge. This allowed me to include some classic pictures of baculoviruses along with more recent figures that will likely become classics. Because of the use of the Bombyx mori baculovirus for many investigations, I have now included the orthologous BmNPV orfs along with those of AcMNPV in the revised Chapter 12, ‘The AcMNPV genome: Gene content, conservation, and function’. I am grateful to a number of individuals who contributed suggestions and comments for this revised book, including Drs. T. Ohkawa, S. Katsuma, L. Passarelli, A. Khan, and G. Pennock. This book could not have been produced without the continued encouragement and assistance of Dr. Laura Dean of the National Library of Medicine (NCBI/NIH).

Download a Powerpoint file of all figures and tables.

Preface from first edition

Created: November 1, 2008.

After completing my PhD on an RNA bacteriophage in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington in 1970, I accepted a position as lecturer in biology at the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland that was located in Roma, Lesotho. Because of pressure from the governments of Botswana and Swaziland for a presence of higher education in their countries, satellite two-year campuses were started in these countries in 1971, and I transferred to Swaziland to start the biology department. Swaziland has highlands on the west side that slope down to a more arid region to the east. One of the first things I noticed upon moving there was the diversity of the insect life compared to elsewhere that I had lived. I started photographing as many of the distinctive species that I could find, and this eventually led to an interest in research on insects.

I was given a three-month sabbatical by the university in the fall of 1974, and I spent it at Oregon State University because they had an entomology department and it was located near my family who lived in Eastern Washington. Because my training was in virology, I thought that a way to combine my past experience in virology with research on insects was to conduct research on insect virology. Adjacent to the university campus is a USDA Forest Service Forestry Sciences Laboratory that at the time had a very vigorous program in the biological control of forest insects, particularly of the Douglas-fir tussock moth, Orgyia pseudotsugata. The program in virology was led by Mauro Martignoni – who introduced me to baculoviruses -- and the Bacillus thuringiensis program was directed by Hank Thompson. There were also an electron microscopy lab staffed by Ken Hughes and Bo Addison and a variety of other individuals who did research on the formulation and application of biocontrol agents. During my brief time at OSU I started working on the characterization of baculovirus occlusion body proteins in the laboratory of Prof. Victor Brooks.

My interest in baculoviruses that began with my fascination with insects moved on to using viruses for biological control and eventually became focused on molecular biology. After I left OSU at the end of 1974, Mauro offered me a position as a lab technician. Therefore, I returned to OSU in the fall of 1975 and started my career in baculovirology. I initially worked in Mauro’s lab, but because my research was directed toward developing methods of identifying baculoviruses, he encouraged me to work in the lab of Prof. George Beaudreau, a molecular biologist working with retroviruses in the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, who had collaborated with Mauro on a baculovirus project in the past. Another virologist, Prof. George Pearson, was located in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics that was in the same building as our lab. His group was purifying restriction enzymes, and after a recent sabbatical in Prof. Phil Sharp's lab (whose group had recently discovered introns), he had begun investigating introns using electron microscopy. In addition, George Pearson's wife, Margot, an immunologist, worked in the Beaudreau lab and later worked with me for many years. Therefore, whereas my early interest was in insect biocontrol, due to the influence and opportunities provided by my association with these experienced molecular biologists, I initiated research on the molecular biology of the baculoviruses of O. pseudotsugata including restriction enzyme analyses, cloning, and intron analysis. Furthermore, I was always interested in evolution, and when we were able to obtain some N-terminal sequences for polyhedrin in collaboration with another colleague in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Prof. Bob Becker, George Beaudreau, and I set about attempting to examine the evolution of these proteins. Back in those days, the calculation of phylogenetic relationships was accomplished using hand calculators. Despite the limited data and primitive methods of analysis, these early data clearly suggested that baculoviruses had evolved with their host insects, and this concept has been verified with recent, more complete and extensive data sets using sophisticated computer programs.

The genesis for this book was my decision to completely annotate the AcMNPV genome in an attempt to understand what was known about the function of the ~150 open reading frames present. Although I found this somewhat challenging, with the assistance of the internet, particularly PubMed and the Viral Bioinformatics Resource Center (VBRC) at the University of Victoria in Canada, I was able to cover 10–15 orfs per day both by reviewing the literature and examining phylogenetic relationships using the VBRC site. Furthermore, Dr. Jun Gomi gave me permission to cite the work that she and her colleagues performed with Prof. Maeda on the deletion of all the genes of BmNPV. This was an important study, but because of the untimely passing of Prof. Maeda, much of this work has not been published. Because of the close relatedness of the BmNPV genome to that of AcMNPV, this information is invaluable in interpreting the function of many genes in AcMNPV that have not been characterized. Once I had compiled a draft of the information on AcMNPV orfs, I decided that since I had most of the references annotated, I would attempt to organize the material into a series of chapters that would cover baculovirus molecular biology, and in the process put many of the genes that I had annotated into the context of their role in the biology of these viruses. This idea was stimulated when I found that it would be possible to publish this book online with open access using Bookshelf, a scientific publishing arm of the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). I thought that this was important because some of the most active labs in baculovirus molecular biology are located in areas where access to a commercial publication might be limited, and an open access format would ensure that members of these laboratories could examine this material if it interested them. Although I do not have expertise in all the areas that I have covered, I used the opportunity to review the literature in the areas with which I was unfamiliar. I have attempted to interpret some features of baculovirus biology in terms of their hypothetical function. These theories are based on current and probably very limited understanding of the biology of this complex group of viruses, and I welcome future information that will explain these phenomena in more detail. Any comments or suggestions for revision of this text are also welcome, because I am certain that much has been overlooked, and with the availability of online publication, more complete future editions of this book are possible.

I am indebted to Mauro Martignoni and George Beaudreau for assisting me in starting research on baculoviruses back in the mid-1970’s. They were always interested and enthusiastic, and without their encouragement and forbearance, it is unlikely that I would have had a career in baculovirology.

I would like to also express my appreciation to Drs. Margot Pearson and Victor Mikhailov for their reading and comments on this manuscript and also for the many contributions that they made to the understanding of baculovirus molecular biology over the years. The numerous individuals who answered my questions, shared their insight, and provided me with manuscripts before their publication are also greatly appreciated, as is the assistance of Desiree Rye of the NLM in editing the manuscript. This book could not have been produced without the encouragement, assistance, computer skills, and guidance of Dr. Laura Dean, also of the NLM.

Copyright © 2011, George Rohrmann.
Bookshelf ID: NBK49497
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