Scientists have shown that different segments of a virus genome can exist in distinct cells but work together to cause an infection.
The findings, published in the open-access journal eLife, upturn a fundamental model in virology that a virus genome enters and replicates within a single cell and then moves on to replicate in another.
Multipartite viruses are intriguing viral systems because their genome is divided into several segments and each is enclosed within a distinct virus particle. It has long been believed that all of the genome segments must move together from cell to cell to cause an infection. But the new study shows this is not the case.
“The chances of a multipartite virus losing an essential genome segment during transmission are estimated to be so high, its ability to successfully cause an infection has been a long-standing mystery,” says first author Anne Sicard, Postdoctoral Researcher at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), France. “We set out to test a bold possibility: can this virus successfully infect a host even if its genome segments are not together within individual cells?” Paper. (access?) – Anne Sicard, Elodie Pirolles, Romain Gallet, Marie-Stéphanie Vernerey, Michel Yvon, Cica Urbino, Michel Peterschmitt, Serafin Gutierrez, Yannis Michalakis, Stéphane Blanc. A multicellular way of life for a multipartite virus. eLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.43599 More.
We underestimate our viral overlords. They are making “it has long been believed” our enemy.
Before you go: Virus expert highlights the conflict over whether viruses are alive In short, it is an open question. The question relates to the role viruses can play in evolution, among other things. Are they precursors of life, detritus of life, or something in between? Or all three? Keep the file open.
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