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University of York Team Reports Structure of Human Gut Crassviruses

A structural atlas of a human gut crassvirus is reported in Nature this week, providing insights into the mechanisms of assembly and infection for this viral order. CrAssphage and related viruses of the order Crassvirales — collectively known as crassviruses — are the most abundant viruses in the human gut, accounting for up to 95 percent of the viral sequences in some individuals. Crassviruses are believed to have roles in the composition and functionality of the human microbiome, but the structures and roles of most of the virally encoded proteins are unknown. In their new paper, an international team led by University of York scientists used cryo-electron microscopy to characterize ΦcrAss001, the first crassvirus to be isolated in pure culture from human fecal samples. The work reveals the structural hallmarks of crassviruses and, when combined with comparative genomic analysis, enabled the researchers to assign functions to the majority of the previously uncharacterized proteins involved in virion assembly and infection.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.