Recessive Host Range Mutants and Unsusceptible Cells That Inactivate Virions without Genome Penetration: Ecological and Technical Implications

Aaron P. Roznowski, Robert J. Young, Samuel D. Love, Avenetti A. Andromita, Vanessa A. Guzman, Margaret H. Wilch, Ava Block, Anne McGill, Martine Lavelle, Anastasia Romanova, Aimi Sekiguchi, Meixiao Wang, April D. Burch, Bentley A. Fane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although microviruses do not possess a visible tail structure, one vertex rearranges after interacting with host lipopolysaccharides. Most examinations of host range, eclipse, and penetration were conducted before this "host-induced" unique vertex was discovered and before DNA sequencing became routine. Consequently, structurefunction relationships dictating host range remain undefined. Biochemical and genetic analyses were conducted with two closely related microviruses,3 and ST-1. Despite90% amino acid identity, the natural host of 3 is Escherichia coli C, whereas ST-1 is a K-12-specific phage. Virions attached and eclipsed to both native and unsusceptible hosts; however, they breached only the native host's cell wall. This suggests that unsusceptible host-phage interactions promote off-pathway reactions that can inactivate viruses without penetration. This phenomenon may have broader ecological implications. To determine which structural proteins conferred host range specificity, chimeric virions were generated by individually interchanging the coat, spike, or DNA pilot proteins. Interchanging the coat protein switched host range. However, host range expansion could be conferred by single point mutations in the coat protein. The expansion phenotype was recessive: Genetically mutant progeny from coinfected cells did not display the phenotype. Thus, mutant isolation required populations generated in environments with low multiplicities of infection (MOI), a phenomenon that may have impacted past host range studies in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. The resulting genetic and structural data were consistent enough that host range expansion could be predicted, broadening the classical definition of antireceptors to include interfaces between protein complexes within the capsid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01767-18
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Bacteriophage evolution
  • Bacteriophage genetics
  • Genome penetration
  • Host range
  • Microviridae
  • Unsusceptible host
  • Virus-host interactions
  • X174

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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