Susanne Erdmann

Event Date: 
Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - 19:00 - 19:45
University of New South Wales

A plasmid goes viral: reassessing distinctions between viruses and plasmids


The major difference between viruses and plasmids is the mechanism of transferring their genomic information between host cells. Here we describe the archaeal plasmid pR1SE that transfers via a mechanism similar to a virus. pR1SE encodes proteins which induce formation of structurally defined membrane vesicles at the host cell surface. The released vesicles are capable of infecting a plasmid-free strain which then gains the ability to produce plasmid-containing vesicles. The pR1SE mechanism of transfer of DNA could represent the predecessor of the strategy used by viruses to pass on their genomic DNA and fulfil roles in gene exchange, supporting a strong evolutionary connection between plasmids and viruses.