Minor intron-containing genes as an ancient backbone for viral infection?

TitleMinor intron-containing genes as an ancient backbone for viral infection?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsWuchty S, White AK, Olthof AM, Drake K, Hume AJ, Olejnik J, Aguiar-Pulido V, Mühlberger E, Kanadia RN
JournalPNAS Nexus
Date Published2024 Jan

Minor intron-containing genes (MIGs) account for <2% of all human protein-coding genes and are uniquely dependent on the minor spliceosome for proper excision. Despite their low numbers, we surprisingly found a significant enrichment of MIG-encoded proteins (MIG-Ps) in protein-protein interactomes and host factors of positive-sense RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2, MERS coronavirus, and Zika virus. Similarly, we observed a significant enrichment of MIG-Ps in the interactomes and sets of host factors of negative-sense RNA viruses such as Ebola virus, influenza A virus, and the retrovirus HIV-1. We also found an enrichment of MIG-Ps in double-stranded DNA viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, human papillomavirus, and herpes simplex viruses. In general, MIG-Ps were highly connected and placed in central positions in a network of human-host protein interactions. Moreover, MIG-Ps that interact with viral proteins were enriched with essential genes. We also provide evidence that viral proteins interact with ancestral MIGs that date back to unicellular organisms and are mainly involved in basic cellular functions such as cell cycle, cell division, and signal transduction. Our results suggest that MIG-Ps form a stable, evolutionarily conserved backbone that viruses putatively tap to invade and propagate in human host cells.

Alternate JournalPNAS Nexus
PubMed ID38274120
PubMed Central IDPMC10810330