Prions are misfolded protein states that can template their self-perpetuating conformations onto other molecules of the same type. History has engendered the perception that prions are inherently pathogenic. Although this is often the case, Daniel Jarosz and James Byers discuss how yeast prions play a crucial role in shaping the behavior of natural populations.
Protein glycosylation occurs in all kingdoms of life and is thought to influence protein folding, stability, and function. The HMW1 and HMW2 adhesins require a third protein—HMW1C-like proteins. Joseph St. Geme III and colleagues discuss HMW1C-mediated glycosylation, including glycosyltransferase subsets, enzyme structure/binding, and knowledge gaps that still exist around HMW1C-like glycosylation.
Micropathogen species definition is extremely difficult and has given rise to long-lasting controversies about taxonomy. Michel Tibayrenc and Francisco Ayala propose that the population genetic approach based on the predominant clonal evolution concept could bring simple solutions to these controversies, since it permits the description of clearly defined evolutionary entities.
Viruses hijack host factors for their high speed protein synthesis and replication. Jiahuai Han and colleagues, using a forward genetic screen on Drosophila mutants that are more resistant or sensitive to Drosophila C Virus, found that strains with deficient expression of the host factor pelo had limited viral replication, highlighting pelo as a requirement for high efficiency translation of capsids.
Activation of HIV expression from latent reservoirs is a part of proposed strategies that may potentially lead to virus elimination and ultimately cure of the infection. In this study, Tomas Cihlar and colleagues show that romidepsin, a drug approved for the treatment of T-cell lymphomas, is a potent activator of HIV expression in in vitro as well as ex vivo models of latency.
Image Credit: Ping Jiang
The morphogenesis stage of enteroviruses, including poliovirus, coxsackieviruses, and poxvirus, remains largely unknown. In one of two linked articles this week in PLOS Pathogens, Binding of Glutathione to Enterovirus Capsids Is Essential for Virion Morphogenesis, Johan Neyts and colleagues illuminate the role of TP219 as a novel inhibitor of the replication of several enteroviruses by binding directly with glutathione (GSH—an important cellular reducing agent) and interfering with virus morphogenesis without affecting RNA replication. In the other linked submission, An Interaction between Glutathione and the Capsid Is Required for the Morphogenesis of C-Cluster Enteroviruses, Ping Jiang and colleagues elucidate further the role of GSH in two enteroviruses. They propose that the role of GSH during enterovirus morphogenesis is to stabilize capsid structures during and after the formation of mature virus particles.
Image Credit: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility
See coverage on two recent articles from PLOS Pathogens and PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Scientific American Blog regarding Vibrio cholerae—the infamous bacterium known for causing cholera.
The pathogen detectives: sourcing the post-earthquake cholera outbreak in Haiti summarizes PLOS Pathogens most recent Pearl, The 2010 Cholera Outbreak in Haiti: How Science Solved a Controversy.
Image Credit: David Merz, Flickr
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