Isolation of a virus causing a chronic infection in the archaeal model organism Haloferax volcanii reveals antiviral activities of a provirus

Tomas Alarcon-Schumacher, Adit Naor, Uri Gophna, Susanne Erdmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Viruses are important ecological, biogeochemical, and evolutionary drivers in every environment. Upon infection, they often cause the lysis of the host cell. However, some viruses exhibit alternative life cycles, such as chronic infections without cell lysis. The nature and the impact of chronic infections in prokaryotic host organisms remains largely unknown. Here, we characterize a novel haloarchaeal virus, Haloferax volcanii pleomorphic virus 1 (HFPV-1), which is currently the only virus infecting the model haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii DS2, and demonstrate that HFPV-1 and H. volcanii are a great model system to study virus–host interactions in archaea. HFPV-1 is a pleomorphic virus that causes a chronic infection with continuous release of virus particles, but host and virus coexist without cell lysis or the appearance of resistant cells. Despite an only minor impact of the infection on host growth, we uncovered an extensive remodeling of the transcriptional program of the host (up to 1,049 differentially expressed genes). These changes are highlighted by a down-regulation of two endogenous provirus regions in the host genome, and we show that HFPV-1 infection is strongly influenced by a cross-talk between HFPV-1 and one of the proviruses mediated by a superinfection-like exclusion mechanism. Furthermore, HFPV-1 has a surprisingly wide host range among haloarchaea, and purified virus DNA can cause an infection after transformation into the host, making HFPV-1 a candidate for being developed into a genetic tool for a range of so far inaccessible haloarchaea.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2205037119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume119
Issue number35
DOIs
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • CRISPR
  • archaea
  • chronic infection
  • virus

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