Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Phage in the News

Science Daily reports on a new paper in Biophysical Journal from Joshua Weitz and team. I met Joshua last winter at the Viral Paradigms Workshop. It was clear then that he was doing some exciting work.

"The researchers modeled the complex gene regulatory dynamics of the lysis-lysogeny switch for lambda phage.... The decision circuit is a race between two pathways and in the case of a single virus, the outcome is biased toward lysis," explained Weitz. "In our model, when multiple viruses infect a given cell, the overall production of regulatory proteins increases. This transient increase is reinforced by a positive feedback loop in the latency pathway, permitting even higher production of lysogenic proteins, and ultimately the latent outcome."

The central idea in the model proposed by Weitz and collaborators is that increases in the overall amount of viral proteins produced from multiple viral genomes can have a dramatic effect on the nonlinear gene networks that control cell fate."

I've previously written about the lysis-lysogeny decision in phage.

I've just downloaded the paper and look forward to reading it closely.

Photo: Phage lambda electron-micrograph. Notice it lacks tail-fibers which is typical of laboratory reared lambda. Wild lambda have tail fibers.

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