So, as you may have noticed, I am a bit absent these days. Indeed, it is currently a lot of stuff to be completed, so I don’t have the time to write postings. But I’ll be back soon 😉 In the meantime, here are some papers and various blog postings I managed to read somehow:
Partible paternity, the conception belief that more than one man can contribute to the formation of a fetus, is common in lowland South America and characterized by nonexclusive mating relationships and various institutionalized forms of recognition and investment by multiple cofathers. Previous work has emphasized the fitness benefits for women where partible paternity beliefs facilitate paternal investment from multiple men and may reduce the risk of infanticide. In this comparative study of 128 lowland South American societies, the prevalence of partible paternity beliefs may be as much as two times as common as biologically correct beliefs in singular paternity. Partible paternity beliefs are nearly ubiquitous in four large language families—Carib, Pano, Tupi, and Macro-Je. Phylogenetic reconstruction suggests that partible paternity evolved deep in Amazonian prehistory at the root of a tentative Je-Carib-Tupi clade. Partible paternity often occurs with uxorilocal postmarital residence (males transfer), although there are exceptions. Partible paternity may have benefits for both sexes, especially in societies where essentially all offspring are said to have multiple fathers. Despite a decrease in paternity certainty, at least some men probably benefit (or mitigate costs) by increasing their number of extramarital partners, using sexual access to their wives to formalize male alliances, and/or sharing paternity with close kin.
As major consumers of heterotrophic bacteria and phytoplankton, microzooplankton are a critical link in aquatic foodwebs. Here, we show that a major marine microflagellate grazer is infected by a giant virus, Cafeteria roenbergensis virus (CroV), which has the largest genome of any described marine virus (≈730 kb of double-stranded DNA). The central 618-kb coding part of this AT-rich genome contains 544 predicted protein-coding genes; putative early and late promoter motifs have been detected and assigned to 191 and 72 of them, respectively, and at least 274 genes were expressed during infection. The diverse coding potential of CroV includes predicted translation factors, DNA repair enzymes such as DNA mismatch repair protein MutS and two photolyases, multiple ubiquitin pathway components, four intein elements, and 22 tRNAs. Many genes including isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase, eIF-2γ, and an Elp3-like histone acetyltransferase are usually not found in viruses. We also discovered a 38-kb genomic region of putative bacterial origin, which encodes several predicted carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes, including an entire pathway for the biosynthesis of 3-deoxy-d-manno-octulosonate, a key component of the outer membrane in Gram-negative bacteria. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that CroV is a nucleocytoplasmic large DNA virus, with Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus as its closest relative, although less than one-third of the genes of CroV have homologs in Mimivirus. CroV is a highly complex marine virus and the only virus studied in genetic detail that infects one of the major groups of predators in the oceans.
The resurrection of endogenous retroviruses from inactive molecular fossils has allowed the investigation of interactions between extinct pathogens and their hosts that occurred millions of years ago. Two such paleoviruses, chimpanzee endogenous retrovirus-1 and -2 (CERV1 and CERV2), are relatives of modern MLVs and are found in the genomes of a variety of Old World primates, but are absent from the human genome. No extant CERV1 and -2 proviruses are known to encode functional proteins. To investigate the host range restriction of these viruses, we attempted to reconstruct functional envelopes by generating consensus genes and proteins. CERV1 and -2 enveloped MLV particles infected cell lines from a range of mammalian species. Using CERV2 Env-pseudotyped MLV reporters, we identified copper transport protein 1 (CTR1) as a receptor that was presumably used by CERV2 during its ancient exogenous replication in primates. Expression of human CTR1 was sufficient to confer CERV2 permissiveness on otherwise resistant hamster cells, and CTR1 knockdown or CuCl2 treatment specifically inhibited CERV2 infection of human cells. Mutations in highly conserved CTR1 residues that have rendered hamster cells resistant to CERV2 include a unique deletion in a copper-binding motif. These CERV2 receptor-inactivating mutations in hamster CTR1 are accompanied by apparently compensating changes, including an increased number of extracellular copper-coordinating residues, and this may represent an evolutionary barrier to the acquisition of CERV2 resistance in primates.
- Molecular mechanisms of retroviral integrase inhibition and the evolution of viral resistance (PNAS Microbiology)
The development of HIV integrase (IN) strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs) and our understanding of viral resistance to these molecules have been hampered by a paucity of available structural data. We recently reported cocrystal structures of the prototype foamy virus (PFV) intasome with raltegravir and elvitegravir, establishing the general INSTI binding mode. We now present an expanded set of cocrystal structures containing PFV intasomes complexed with first- and second-generation INSTIs at resolutions of up to 2.5 Å. Importantly, the improved resolution allowed us to refine the complete coordination spheres of the catalytic metal cations within the INSTI-bound intasome active site. We show that like the Q148H/G140S and N155H HIV-1 IN variants, the analogous S217H and N224H PFV INs display reduced sensitivity to raltegravir in vitro. Crystal structures of the mutant PFV intasomes in INSTI-free and -bound forms revealed that the amino acid substitutions necessitate considerable conformational rearrangements within the IN active site to accommodate an INSTI, thus explaining their adverse effects on raltegravir antiviral activity. Furthermore, our structures predict physical proximity and an interaction between HIV-1 IN mutant residues His148 and Ser/Ala140, rationalizing the coevolution of Q148H and G140S/A mutations in drug-resistant viral strains.