Mastadenoviruses represent one of the four major genera of the Adenoviridae family comprising a variety of mammalian pathogens including human adenovirus (Ad), whose genomes encode a gene for minor core protein V (pV), not found in other genera of Adenoviridae. Deletion of other genus-specific genes (gene IX and E3 genes) from the Ad type 5 (Ad5) genome has been studied experimentally in vitro and the results on biological characterization of the mutants support the phylogenetic evidence of those genes being non-essential for Ad viability. On this basis it seemed logical to suggest that a deletion of gene V from the Ad5 genome could also be tolerated. To test this hypothesis we constructed and rescued the first pV-deletion mutant of human Ad5. As compared to Ad5, this mutant formed small plaques, had dramatically reduced thermostability and lower infectivity. A subsequent thermoselection screen of the pV-deleted Ad5 allowed isolation of a suppressor mutant Ad5-dV/TSB with restored biological characteristics. Since replication and viral assembly of Ad5-dV/TSB could still occur in the absence of pV, we conclude that pV is a non-essential component of the virion. The observed rescue of the biological defects appears to be associated with a cluster of point mutations in the gene encoding the precursor for the other core protein, X/Mu. This finding, thus, suggests possible roles of pV and protein X/Mu precursor in viral assembly. It also provides an interesting insight into genetic events that mediate molecular adaptation of viruses to possible changes in the genetic background in the course of their evolutionary divergence. The possible mechanism of the observed genetic suppression is discussed.
- core proteins
- pV deletion