1887

Abstract

Vaccinia virus (VACV) genes are characterized as either essential or non-essential for growth in culture. It seems intuitively obvious that if a gene can be deleted without imparting a growth defect it does not have a function related to basic replication or spread. However, this interpretation relies on the untested assumption that there is no redundancy across the genes that have roles in growth in cell culture. First, we provide a comprehensive summary of the literature that describes the essential genes of VACV. Next, we looked for interactions between large blocks of non-essential genes located at the ends of the genome by investigating sets of VACVs with large deletions at the genomic termini. Viruses with deletions at either end of the genome behaved as expected, exhibiting only mild or host-range defects. In contrast, combining deletions at both ends of the genome for the VACV Western Reserve (WR) strain caused a devastating growth defect on all cell lines tested. Unexpectedly, we found that the well-studied VACV growth factor homologue encoded by has a role in growth that is exposed when 42 genes are absent from the left end of the VACV WR genome. These results demonstrate that some non-essential genes contribute to basic viral growth, but redundancy means these functions are not revealed by single-gene-deletion mutants.

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2015-11-01
2019-12-11
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