Virus-X - Identifying Novel Virus Enzymes for Biotechnology

• The Virus-X project will employ sequence-based bioprospecting methodologies combining bioinformatics, functional analysis and structural biology (3D structure determination) to explore metagenomes of viruses in natural ecosystems and the encoded gene products.
•The Virus-X project puts emphasis on developing the metagenomics toolbox creating new toools to strengthen future efforts in the field. This includes new bioinformatics tools for sequence analysis and structure-function analysis of protein families.
•The Virus-X project will enhance the understanding of microbial communities and functional dynamics between viruses and microorganisms. The exploration of viruses in nature focuses on natural ecosystems in the ocean off the coast of Norway and geothermal areas (hot springs) in Iceland.
•Virus-X is a research and development plan ultimately leading to innovations and industrial value in the form of specific marketable products of viral origin, i.e. biocatalysts for biotech applications, as well as improved services in the field of bioinformatics and structural biology.
The project includes 15 academic and industrial partners and is coordinated by

The most recent structure solved within the Virus-X project: XepA

XepA is presumed lytic exoenzyme associated with defective prophage PBSX, source B.subtilis 168 prophage. It should be noted that its structure is very different from that adapted by typical lytic enzymes. The structure consists of two pentameric ring structures connected by a “handle” in the middle. Each subunit within the pentamer consists of two structurally identical domains connected by a long linker region building a “ hantel”-like structure. The domains build up the upper and lower rings, while the linked region builds up the middle region “handle” of the hantel.

Other structures solved within the Virus-X project (left-to-right)
Upper row:
YomS - Putative phage-related lytic exoenzyme,
Bacillus subtilis 168 prophage;
LysC - N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase,
Clostridium intestinale URNW;
LysCS - N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase,
Clostridium intestinale;

Bottom row:
G-1 endolysine – Phage Ph2119;
Putative Holiday-junction-helicase- P3c (Phage 15-6);
Single-stranded DNA-binding protein –
Fervidobacterium nosdosum

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Virus-X - crystal structures of virus proteins