Patterns of Viral Signal Peptide Sequences and their Corresponding Hosts


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A signal peptide (SP) is a short sequence located in the N-terminal of prokaryotic and eukaryotic proteins that helps mediate targeting of newly synthesized proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). SPs are variable in length and amino acid composition, which suggests that ER targeting and other co-translational steps are affected by the SP itself (Burdukiewicz et al., 2018). Viruses typically stay in a host that can harbor them without harming them unless they problematically cross into a new species (Healthline, 2019). As we experience the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize more than ever the importance of studying potential viral signaling patterns, which may shed light upon predictive models for viral protein replication between species and hosts. In this exploratory study, we compared the viral SPs and their corresponding genes of seven viral families to host genomes using a semi-automated approach with Protein BLAST. Viruses have the ability to encode functions required for viral replication by completely relying on the protein synthesis machinery present of a host cell (Goulding, Virus replication). Therefore, we proposed three different mechanisms viruses use to exploit a host: (1) only the signal peptide is captured from a host gene, (2) a part of the host gene is captured, and (3) the full gene is captured for the virus to have a function. For these three proposed evolutionary mechanisms, we identified functional clusters of all viral SP/host gene matches and found both known and potentially novel functional clusters pertaining to viral signal peptides. We also constructed ancestral sequences to detect selective pressure within Herpesviridae and Baculoviridae in which we found that both viral and host SP have amino acid conservation through their corresponding extant and ancestral sequences. As the initial steps on the first comprehensive study of SP in virions while linking virus-host phylogeny, this research can enhance our understanding of viral-host evolution across viral species and families.

  • etd-4311
Defense date
  • 2020
Date created
  • 2020-09-20
Resource type
Rights statement
Last modified
  • 2023-11-03


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