08.04.2015
Doctoral Dissertation

17.4. M.Sc. Alice Pawlowski (Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Cell and Molecular Biology)

Time:

17.4.2015 12:00 — 15:00


Location: Mattilanniemi , Agora, Auditorio 3
Release: 24 Apr 2015 A novel virus family from extreme environments (Pawlowski)
M.Sc. Alice Pawlowski defends her dissertation in Cell and Molecular Biology titled "Thermus bacteriophage P23-77: key member of a novel, but ancient family of viruses from extreme environments". Opponent Associate Professor Kenneth Stedman (Portland State University) and custos Professor Jaana Bamford.

Alice PawlowskiM.Sc. Alice Pawlowski defends her dissertation in Cell and Molecular Biology titled "Thermus bacteriophage P23-77: key member of a novel, but ancient family of viruses from extreme environments". Opponent Associate Professor Kenneth Stedman (Portland State University) and custos Professor Jaana Bamford.

Extreme environments, especially hot ones, harbour a plethora of novel virus types. They provide a valuable source for the study of ancient virus types and early viral evolution.

Pawlwoski used a combined approach of genetic and structural analysis to determine the evolutionary relatedness of some bacteria-infecting viruses (bacteriophages) from hot environments – represented by Thermus phage P23-77 – to a group of archaeal viruses from very saline environments. These bacterial and archaeal viruses were unified within a novel family called Sphaerolipoviridae. Sphaerolipoviridae represents the first family of tailless viruses amongst the 104 viral families recognized by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) that comprises viruses from two domains of life (Archaea and Bacteria). Moreover, it is the first assigned family of viruses infecting bacteria for over 30 years. An astronomical number of 1031 viruses is supposed to fill the biosphere, making viruses the most abundant biological entity on Earth. With a systematic classification we can bring some order to this vast continuum of viruses. Classification simplifies the daily work of all people dealing with viruses.

Viruses from extremely hot environments need to develop special strategies to stabilize the capsid – the protein shell that protects the viral genome. Some viruses – such as P23-77 – have an additional lipid layer between the capsid and the genome. By using biophysical methods, Pawlowski found out that a minor capsid protein is required to link the outer protein shell to the internal membrane. The protein is supposed to reinforce the capsid stability and to facilitate the correct assembly of the viral capsid. The results provide interesting insights into the stabilization and assembly of protein-lipid systems at high temperatures.

Alice Pawlowski holds an M. Sc. from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, 2000. After working three years as researcher in the Department of Microbiology at the Ruhr-University Bochum, she switched to the private sector and worked from 2003 – 2008 as Senior Researcher in the development and production of enzymes for the synthesis of chemical and pharmaceutical products at X-Zyme GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany. After moving to Finland, she worked in the group of Prof. Jaana Bamford, first as project researcher (2008 – 2012), then as PhD-student (2013 – 2015) within the Finnish Centre of Excellence (CoE) Program in Virus Research (2006–2011) and CoE in Biological Interactions (2012–2017).

The dissertation is published in the series of Jyväskylä Studies in Biological and Environmental Science, number 300, 70 p., Jyväskylä 2015, ISSN 1456-9701, ISBN 978-951-39-6153-4 (nid.) and ISBN 978-951-39-6154-1 (PDF). It is available at the University Library’s Publications Unit, tel. +358 40 805 3825, myynti@library.jyu.fi.

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Alice Pawlowski

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alice.pawlowski@jyu.fi