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J Bacteriol. 2008 Oct;190(20):6837-45. doi: 10.1128/JB.00795-08. Epub 2008 Aug 22.

Stygiolobus rod-shaped virus and the interplay of crenarchaeal rudiviruses with the CRISPR antiviral system.

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Danish Archaea Centre, Department of Biology, Copenhagen University, Ole Maal√łes Vej 5, DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.


A newly characterized archaeal rudivirus Stygiolobus rod-shaped virus (SRV), which infects a hyperthermophilic Stygiolobus species, was isolated from a hot spring in the Azores, Portugal. Its virions are rod-shaped, 702 (+/- 50) by 22 (+/- 3) nm in size, and nonenveloped and carry three tail fibers at each terminus. The linear double-stranded DNA genome contains 28,096 bp and an inverted terminal repeat of 1,030 bp. The SRV shows morphological and genomic similarities to the other characterized rudiviruses Sulfolobus rod-shaped virus 1 (SIRV1), SIRV2, and Acidianus rod-shaped virus 1, isolated from hot acidic springs of Iceland and Italy. The single major rudiviral structural protein is shown to generate long tubular structures in vitro of similar dimensions to those of the virion, and we estimate that the virion constitutes a single, superhelical, double-stranded DNA embedded into such a protein structure. Three additional minor conserved structural proteins are also identified. Ubiquitous rudiviral proteins with assigned functions include glycosyl transferases and a S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methyltransferase, as well as a Holliday junction resolvase, a transcriptionally coupled helicase and nuclease implicated in DNA replication. Analysis of matches between known crenarchaeal chromosomal CRISPR spacer sequences, implicated in a viral defense system, and rudiviral genomes revealed that about 10% of the 3,042 unique acidothermophile spacers yield significant matches to rudiviral genomes, with a bias to highly conserved protein genes, consistent with the widespread presence of rudiviruses in hot acidophilic environments. We propose that the 12-bp indels which are commonly found in conserved rudiviral protein genes may be generated as a reaction to the presence of the host CRISPR defense system.

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