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Tromas N.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Zwart M.P.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Lafforgue G.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2014

A multicellular organism is not a monolayer of cells in a flask; it is a complex, spatially structured environment, offering both challenges and opportunities for viruses to thrive. Whereas virus infection dynamics at the host and within-cell levels have been documented, the intermediate between-cell level remains poorly understood. Here, we used flow cytometry to measure the infection status of thousands of individual cells in virus-infected plants. This approach allowed us to determine accurately the number of cells infected by two virus variants in the same host, over space and time as the virus colonizes the host. We found a low overall frequency of cellular infection (<0.3), and few cells were coinfected by both virus variants (<0.1). We then estimated the cellular contagion rate (R), the number of secondary infections per infected cell per day. R ranged from 2.43 to values not significantly different from zero, and generally decreased over time. Estimates of the cellular multiplicity of infection (MOI), the number of virions infecting a cell, were low (<1.5). Variance of virus-genotype frequencies increased strongly from leaf to cell levels, in agreement with a low MOI. Finally, there were leaf-dependent differences in the ease with which a leaf could be colonized, and the number of virions effectively colonizing a leaf. The modeling of infection patterns suggests that the aggregation of virus-infected cells plays a key role in limiting spread; matching the observation that cell-to-cell movement of plant viruses can result in patches of infection. Our results show that virus expansion at the between-cell level is restricted, probably due to the host environment and virus infection itself. © 2014 Tromas et al.


Tromas N.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
Genetics | Year: 2010

Knowing mutation rates and the molecular spectrum of spontaneous mutations is important to understanding how the genetic composition of viral populations evolves. Previous studies have shown that the rate of spontaneous mutations for RNA viruses widely varies between 0.01 and 2 mutations per genome and generation, with plant RNA viruses always occupying the lower side of this range. However, this peculiarity of plant RNA viruses is based on a very limited number of studies. Here we analyze the spontaneous mutational spectrum and the mutation rate of Tobacco etch potyvirus, a model system of positive sense RNA viruses. Our experimental setup minimizes the action of purifying selection on the mutational spectrum, thus giving a picture of what types of mutations are produced by the viral replicase. As expected for a neutral target, we found that transitions and nonsynonymous (including a few stop codons and small deletions) mutations were the most abundant type. This spectrum was notably different from the one previously described for another plant virus. We have estimated that the spontaneous mutation rate for this virus was in the range 10 -6-10 -5 mutations per site and generation. Our estimates are in the same biological ballpark that previous values reported for plant RNA viruses. This finding gives further support to the idea that plant RNA viruses may have lower mutation rates than their animal counterparts. Copyright © 2010 by the Genetics Society of America.


Lalic J.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
Biology Letters | Year: 2013

How, and to what extent, does the environment influence the way mutations interact? Do environmental changes affect both the sign and the magnitude of epistasis? Are there any correlations between environments in the variability, sign or magnitude of epistasis? Very few studies have tackled these questions. Here, we addressed them in the context of viral emergence. Most emerging viruses are RNA viruses with small genomes, overlapping reading frames and multifunctional proteins for which epistasis is abundant. Understanding the effect of host species in the sign and magnitude of epistasis will provide insights into the evolutionary ecology of infectious diseases and the predictability of viral emergence. © 2012 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Mushegian A.R.,National Science Foundation | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
Virology | Year: 2015

Homologs of Tobacco mosaic virus 30K cell-to-cell movement protein are encoded by diverse plant viruses. Mechanisms of action and evolutionary origins of these proteins remain obscure. We expand the picture of conservation and evolution of the 30K proteins, producing sequence alignment of the 30K superfamily with the broadest phylogenetic coverage thus far and illuminating structural features of the core all-beta fold of these proteins. Integrated copies of pararetrovirus 30K movement genes are prevalent in euphyllophytes, with at least one copy intact in nearly every examined species, and mRNAs detected for most of them. Sequence analysis suggests repeated integrations, pseudogenizations, and positive selection in those provirus genes. An unannotated 30K-superfamily gene in Arabidopsis thaliana genome is likely expressed as a fusion with the At1g37113 transcript. This molecular background of endopararetrovirus gene products in plants may change our view of virus infection and pathogenesis, and perhaps of cellular homeostasis in the hosts. © 2014.


de Visser J.A.G.M.,Wageningen University | Cooper T.F.,University of Houston | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Since Bateson's discovery that genes can suppress the phenotypic effects of other genes, gene interactions-called epistasis-have been the topic of a vast research effort. Systems and developmental biologists study epistasis to understand the genotype-phenotype map, whereas evolutionary biologists recognize the fundamental importance of epistasis for evolution. Depending on its form, epistasis may lead to divergence and speciation, provide evolutionary benefits to sex and affect the robustness and evolvability of organisms. That epistasis can itself be shaped by evolution has only recently been realized. Here, we review the empirical pattern of epistasis, and some of the factors that may affect the form and extent of epistasis. Based on their divergent consequences, we distinguish between interactions with or without mean effect, and those affecting the magnitude of fitness effects or their sign. Empirical work has begun to quantify epistasis in multiple dimensions in the context of metabolic and fitness landscape models.We discuss possible proximate causes (such as protein function and metabolic networks) and ultimate factors (including mutation, recombination, and the importance of natural selection and genetic drift). We conclude that, in general, pleiotropy is an important prerequisite for epistasis, and that epistasis may evolve as an adaptive or intrinsic consequence of changes in genetic robustness and evolvability. © 2011 The Royal Society.


Henderson B.,University College London | Fares M.A.,Trinity College Dublin | Fares M.A.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Lund P.A.,University of Birmingham
Biological Reviews | Year: 2013

Chaperonin 60 is the prototypic molecular chaperone, an essential protein in eukaryotes and prokaryotes, whose sequence conservation provides an excellent basis for phylogenetic analysis. Escherichia coli chaperonin 60 (GroEL), the prototype of this family of proteins, has an established oligomeric-structure-based folding mechanism and a defined population of folding partners. However, there is a growing number of examples of chaperonin 60 proteins whose crystal structures and oligomeric composition are at variance with GroEL, suggesting that additional complexities in the protein-folding function of this protein should be expected. In addition, many organisms have multiple chaperonin 60 proteins, some of which have lost their protein-folding ability. It is emerging that this highly conserved protein has evolved a bewildering variety of additional biological functions - known as moonlighting functions - both within the cell and in the extracellular milieu. Indeed, in some organisms, it is these moonlighting functions that have been left after the loss of the protein-folding activity. This highlights the major paradox in the biology of chaperonin 60. This article reviews the relationship between the folding and non-folding (moonlighting) activities of the chaperonin 60 family and discusses current knowledge on their molecular evolution focusing on protein domains involved in the non-folding chaperonin functions in an attempt to understand the emerging biology of this evolutionarily ancient protein family.© 2013 Cambridge Philosophical Society.


Lali J.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
Heredity | Year: 2012

How epistatic interactions between mutations determine the genetic architecture of fitness is of central importance in evolution. The study of epistasis is particularly interesting for RNA viruses because of their genomic compactness, lack of genetic redundancy, and apparent low complexity. Moreover, interactions between mutations in viral genomes determine traits such as resistance to antiviral drugs, virulence and host range. In this study we generated 53 Tobacco etch potyvirus genotypes carrying pairs of single-nucleotide substitutions and measured their separated and combined deleterious fitness effects. We found that up to 38% of pairs had significant epistasis for fitness, including both positive and negative deviations from the null hypothesis of multiplicative effects. Interestingly, the sign of epistasis was correlated with viral protein-protein interactions in a model network, being predominantly positive between linked pairs of proteins and negative between unlinked ones. Furthermore, 55% of significant interactions were cases of reciprocal sign epistasis (RSE), indicating that adaptive landscapes for RNA viruses maybe highly rugged. Finally, we found that the magnitude of epistasis correlated negatively with the average effect of mutations. Overall, our results are in good agreement to those previously reported for other viruses and further consolidate the view that positive epistasis is the norm for small and compact genomes that lack genetic robustness. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Cutler S.R.,University of California at Riverside | Rodriguez P.L.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Finkelstein R.R.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Abrams S.R.,National Research Council Canada
Annual Review of Plant Biology | Year: 2010

Abscisic acid (ABA) regulates numerous developmental processes and adaptive stress responses in plants. Many ABA signaling components have been identified, but their interconnections and a consensus on the structure of the ABA signaling network have eluded researchers. Recently, several advances have led to the identification of ABA receptors and their three-dimensional structures, and an understanding of how key regulatory phosphatase and kinase activities are controlled by ABA. A new model for ABA action has been proposed and validated, in which the soluble PYR/PYL/RCAR receptors function at the apex of a negative regulatory pathway to directly regulate PP2C phosphatases, which in turn directly regulate SnRK2 kinases. This model unifies many previously defined signaling components and highlights the importance of future work focused on defining the direct targets of SnRK2s and PP2Cs, dissecting the mechanisms of hormone interactions (i.e., cross talk) and defining connections between this new negative regulatory pathway and other factors implicated in ABA signaling. Copyright © 2010 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Zwart M.P.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Daros J.-A.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
PLoS Pathogens | Year: 2011

Effective population size (N e) determines the strength of genetic drift and the frequency of co-infection by multiple genotypes, making it a key factor in viral evolution. Experimental estimates of N e for different plant viruses have, however, rendered diverging results. The independent action hypothesis (IAH) states that each virion has a probability of infection, and that virions act independent of one another during the infection process. A corollary of IAH is that N e must be dose dependent. A test of IAH for a plant virus has not been reported yet. Here we perform a test of an IAH infection model using a plant RNA virus, Tobacco etch virus (TEV) variants carrying GFP or mCherry fluorescent markers, in Nicotiana tabacum and Capsicum annuum plants. The number of primary infection foci increased linearly with dose, and was similar to a Poisson distribution. At high doses, primary infection foci containing both genotypes were found at a low frequency (<2%). The probability that a genotype that infected the inoculated leaf would systemically infect that plant was near 1, although in a few rare cases genotypes could be trapped in the inoculated leaf by being physically surrounded by the other genotype. The frequency of mixed-genotype infection could be predicted from the mean number of primary infection foci using the independent-action model. Independent action appears to hold for TEV, and N e is therefore dose-dependent for this plant RNA virus. The mean number of virions causing systemic infection can be very small, and approaches 1 at low doses. Dose-dependency in TEV suggests that comparison of N e estimates for different viruses are not very meaningful unless dose effects are taken into consideration. © 2011 Zwart et al.


Bedhomme S.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Lafforgue G.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Institute Biologia Molecular Y Celular Of Plantas | Elena S.F.,Santa Fe Institute
Molecular Biology and Evolution | Year: 2012

For multihost pathogens, adaptation to multiple hosts has important implications for both applied and basic research. At the applied level, it is one of the main factors determining the probability and the severity of emerging disease outbreaks. At the basic level, it is thought to be a key mechanism for the maintenance of genetic diversity both in host and pathogen species. Using Tobacco etch potyvirus (TEV) and four natural hosts, we have designed an evolution experiment whose strength and novelty are the use of complex multicellular host organism as hosts and a high level of replication of different evolutionary histories and lineages. A pattern of local adaptation, characterized by a higher infectivity and virulence on host(s) encountered during the experimental evolution was found. Local adaptation only had a cost in terms of performance on other hosts in some cases. We could not verify the existence of a cost for generalists, as expected to arise from antagonistic pleiotropy and other genetic mechanisms generating a fitness trade-off between hosts. This observation confirms that this classical theoretical prediction lacks empirical support. We discuss the reasons for this discrepancy between theory and experiment in the light of our results. The analysis of full genome consensus sequences of the evolved lineages established that all mutations shared between lineages were host specific. A low degree of parallel evolution was observed, possibly reflecting the various adaptive pathways available for TEV in each host. Altogether, these results reveal a strong adaptive potential of TEV to new hosts without severe evolutionary constraints. © The Author 2011.

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