Elevating fitness after a horizontal gene exchange in bacteriophage φX174

Sarah M. Doore, Nicholas J. Schweers, Bentley A. Fane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In an earlier study, protein-based barriers to horizontal gene transfer were investigated by placing the bacteriophage G4 G gene, encoding the major spike protein, into the φX174 genome. The foreign G protein promoted off-pathway assembly reactions, resulting in a lethal phenotype. After three targeted genetic selections, one of two foreign spike proteins was productively integrated into the φX174 system: the complete G4 or a recombinant G4/φX174 protein (94% G4:6% φX174). However, strain fitness was very low. In this study, the chimeras were characterized and experimentally evolved. Inefficient assembly was the primary contributor to low fitness: accordingly, mutations affecting assembly restored fitness. The spike protein preference of the ancestral and evolved strains was determined in competition experiments between the foreign and φX174 G proteins. Before adaptation, both G proteins were incorporated into virions; afterwards, the foreign proteins were strongly preferred. Thus, a previously inhibitory protein became the preferred substrate during assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jan 15 2017


  • Experimental evolution
  • Microviridae
  • Microvirus
  • Virus assembly
  • φX174

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'Elevating fitness after a horizontal gene exchange in bacteriophage φX174'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this