HomeNewsBiologyScientists uncover the mysteries of how viruses evolve

Scientists uncover the mysteries of how viruses evolve


In a directed evolution experiment, a protein shell naturally occurring in micro organism developed right into a protein container that may encapsulate RNA, mimicking a genome packaging mechanism the workforce beforehand found in viruses. Credit: ETH Zürich / Stephan Tette

An worldwide workforce of researchers have shed new gentle on the early levels of viral evolution.


The workforce say their findings have implications for the therapy of viruses in future.

Researchers from the Universities of York and Leeds, collaborating with the Hilvert Laboratory on the ETH Zürich, studied the construction, meeting and of a “container” composed of a bacterial enzyme.

The examine—revealed within the journal Science—particulars the structural transformation of those -like particles into bigger protein “containers.”

It additionally reveals that of the genetic cargo in these containers turns into extra environment friendly through the later levels of evolution. They present that it’s because the genome inside evolves hallmarks of a mechanism broadly utilized by pure viruses, together with COVID-19, to manage their meeting. That mechanism was a joint discovery of the York and Leeds workforce. Professor Reidun Twarock, from the University of York’s Departments of Mathematics and Biology, and the York Cross-disciplinary Centre for Systems Analysis, mentioned, “Using a novel interdisciplinary technique developed in our Wellcome Trust funded team in Leeds and York, we were able to demonstrate that this artificial system evolved the molecular hallmarks of a ‘virus assembly mechanism,’ enabling efficient packaging of its genetic cargo.”

In its evolution, the substitute virus-like particle effectively packages and protects a number of copies of its personal encoding messenger RNA.

Professor Peter Stockley from the University of Leeds’ Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, mentioned, “What’s remarkable is this artificial virus-like particle evolves to be more efficient in packaging RNA. Our collaboration shows that following the evolutionary steps the encapsidated messenger RNAs incorporate more packaging signals than the starting RNAs. In other words, the phenomenon we have been working on in natural viruses ‘evolves’ in an artificial particle, and the results in this paper therefore describe a process that may have occurred in the early evolution of viruses. This understanding enables us to exploit these containers as delivery vehicles for gene therapeutic purposes.”


Unravelling the mystery that makes viruses infectious


More data:
Stephan Tetter et al, Evolution of a virus-like structure and packaging mechanism in a repurposed bacterial protein, Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126/science.abg2822

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University of York

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Scientists uncover the mysteries of how viruses evolve (2021, June 10)
retrieved 10 June 2021
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