X-ray crystallographic studies of the proteins from sulfolobus spindle-shaped viruses (SSVs)
Menon, Smita Kesavankutty
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Viruses populate virtually every ecosystem on the planet. Fuselloviridae are ubiquitous crenarchaeal viruses found in high-temperature acidic hot springs around the world. However, compared to eukaryotic and bacterial viruses, our knowledge of viruses infecting the archaea is limited. Fuselloviral genomes show little similarity to other organisms, generally precluding functional predictions. However, structural studies can reveal distant evolutionary relationships and provide functional insights that are not apparent from the primary amino acid sequence alone. Several such structural studies have already contributed to our understanding of the Sulfolobus Spindle-shaped viruses (Fuselloviridae). Here we report the structure of two proteins, SSV1 F112 and SSVRH D212. Biochemical, proteomic and structural studies of F112 reveal a monomeric intracellular protein that adopts a winged helix DNA binding fold. Continuing these efforts, a second structure was also determined where the overall fold and conservation of active site residues place D212 within the PD-(D/E)XK nuclease superfamily. Notably, the structure of F112 contains an intrachain disulfide bond, prompting analysis of cysteine usage in this and other hyperthermophilic viral genomes. The analysis supports a general abundance of disulfide bonds in the intracellular proteins of hyperthermophilic viruses and the evolutionary implications of such distribution are discussed. Here we review and describe our progress towards understanding these viruses at a molecular level.