From resistance to stimulation: The evolution of a virus in the presence of a dominant lethal inhibitory scaffolding protein

James E. Cherwa, Bentley A. Fane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


By acquiring resistance to an inhibitor, viruses can become dependent on that inhibitor for optimal fitness. However, inhibitors rarely, if ever, stimulate resistant strain fitness to values that equal or exceed the uninhibited wild-type level. This would require an adaptive mechanism that converts the inhibitor into a beneficial replication factor. Using a plasmid-encoded inhibitory external scaffolding protein that blocks ΦX174 assembly, we previously demonstrated that such mechanisms are possible. The resistant strain, referred to as the evolved strain, contains four mutations contributing to the resistance phenotype. Three mutations confer substitutions in the coat protein, whereas the fourth mutation alters the virus-encoded external scaffolding protein. To determine whether stimulation by the inhibitory protein coevolved with resistance or whether it was acquired after resistance was firmly established, the strain temporally preceding the previously characterized mutant, referred to as the intermediary strain, was isolated and characterized. The results of the analysis indicated that the mutation in the virus-encoded external scaffolding protein was primarily responsible for stimulating strain fitness. When the mutation was placed in a wild-type background, it did not confer resistance. The mutation was also placed in cis with the plasmid-encoded dominant lethal mutation. In this configuration, the stimulating mutation exhibited no activity, regardless of the genotype (wild type, evolved, or intermediary) of the infecting virus. Thus, along with the coat protein mutations, stimulation required two external scaffolding protein genes: the once inhibitory gene and the mutant gene acquired during evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6589-6593
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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