3 years ago

A prokaryotic viral sequence is expressed and conserved in mammalian brain [Microbiology]

A prokaryotic viral sequence is expressed and conserved in mammalian brain [Microbiology]
Vignesh Gunasekharan, Yang-Hui Yeh, Laura Manuelidis

A natural and permanent transfer of prokaryotic viral sequences to mammals has not been reported by others. Circular “SPHINX” DNAs <5 kb were previously isolated from nuclease-protected cytoplasmic particles in rodent neuronal cell lines and brain. Two of these DNAs were sequenced after Φ29 polymerase amplification, and they revealed significant but imperfect homology to segments of commensal Acinetobacter phage viruses. These findings were surprising because the brain is isolated from environmental microorganisms. The 1.76-kb DNA sequence (SPHINX 1.8), with an iteron before its ORF, was evaluated here for its expression in neural cells and brain. A rabbit affinity purified antibody generated against a peptide without homology to mammalian sequences labeled a nonglycosylated ∼41-kDa protein (spx1) on Western blots, and the signal was efficiently blocked by the competing peptide. Spx1 was resistant to limited proteinase K digestion, but was unrelated to the expression of host prion protein or its pathologic amyloid form. Remarkably, spx1 concentrated in selected brain synapses, such as those on anterior motor horn neurons that integrate many complex neural inputs. SPHINX 1.8 appears to be involved in tissue-specific differentiation, including essential functions that preserve its propagation during mammalian evolution, possibly via maternal inheritance. The data here indicate that mammals can share and exchange a larger world of prokaryotic viruses than previously envisioned.

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