New insights into a virus proteome

November 23, 2012

The genome encodes the complete information needed by an organism, including that required for protein production. Viruses, which are up to a thousand times smaller than human cells, have considerably smaller genomes. Using a type of herpesvirus as a model system, the scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich and their collaboration partners at the University of California in San Francisco have shown that the genome of this virus contains much more information than previously assumed. The researchers identified several hundred novel proteins, many of which were surprisingly small.

More than 80 percent of the world's population is infected with the herpesvirus, which can cause severe diseases in newborns and in persons with weakened immune system. Researchers had already sequenced the herpesvirus genome 20 years ago, thinking they could then predict all proteins that the virus produces (virus proteome). Now scientists from the research department of Matthias Mann, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, and their American colleagues have analysed the information content of the genome more precisely.

To carry out their study, the scientists infected cells with herpesvirus and observed which proteins the virus produced inside the cell over a period of 72 hours. In order for proteins to be produced at all, the cell machinery must first make copies of the genetic material as intermediate products (RNA). While investigating the intermediate products of the herpesvirus, the American collaborators discovered many novel RNA molecules which were in large part surprisingly short. They also found that the organization of information required for protein production in the virus genome was far more complex than previously assumed. Annette Michalski, a scientist in the Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, was subsequently able to confirm directly the predicted viral proteins in the infected cell using mass spectrometry. This method enables an overview of the complete proteome of the virus-infected cell.

The results of the American and German researchers provide detailed insight into the complex mechanisms used by the virus. "We showed that it's not enough merely to know the virus genome to understand the biology of the herpesvirus," Annette Michalski said. "What is important is to look at the products actually produced from the genome." Even human genes may be much more complex than the genome sequence itself indicates, commented the researchers. Matthias Mann and his colleagues plan to investigate this question further in the coming years.
-end-
Original publication:

N. Stern-Ginossar, B. Weisburd, A. Michalski, V. T. Khanh Le, M. Y. Hein, S.-X. Huang, M. Ma, B. Shen, S.-B. Qian, H. Hengel, M. Mann, N. T. Ingolia, J. S. Weissmann

Decoding Human Cytomegalovirus Science, November 23, 2012

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Related Genome Articles from Brightsurf:

Genome evolution goes digital
Dr. Alan Herbert from InsideOutBio describes ground-breaking research in a paper published online by Royal Society Open Science.

Breakthrough in genome visualization
Kadir Dede and Dr. Enno Ohlebusch at Ulm University in Germany have devised a method for constructing pan-genome subgraphs at different granularities without having to wait hours and days on end for the software to process the entire genome.

Sturgeon genome sequenced
Sturgeons lived on earth already 300 million years ago and yet their external appearance seems to have undergone very little change.

A sea monster's genome
The giant squid is an elusive giant, but its secrets are about to be revealed.

Deciphering the walnut genome
New research could provide a major boost to the state's growing $1.6 billion walnut industry by making it easier to breed walnut trees better equipped to combat the soil-borne pathogens that now plague many of California's 4,800 growers.

Illuminating the genome
Development of a new molecular visualisation method, RNA-guided endonuclease -- in situ labelling (RGEN-ISL) for the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated labelling of genomic sequences in nuclei and chromosomes.

A genome under influence
References form the basis of our comprehension of the world: they enable us to measure the height of our children or the efficiency of a drug.

How a virus destabilizes the genome
New insights into how Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) induces genome instability and promotes cell proliferation could lead to the development of novel antiviral therapies for KSHV-associated cancers, according to a study published Sept.

Better genome editing
Reich Group researchers develop a more efficient and precise method of in-cell genome editing.

Unlocking the genome
A team led by Prof. Stein Aerts (VIB-KU Leuven) uncovers how access to relevant DNA regions is orchestrated in epithelial cells.

Read More: Genome News and Genome Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.