Reduced protein expression in a virus attenuated by codon deoptimization

Benjamin R. Jack, Daniel R. Boutz, Matthew L. Paff, Bartram L. Smith, James J. Bull, Claus O. Wilke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Scopus citations


    A general means of viral attenuation involves the extensive recoding of synonymous codons in the viral genome. The mechanistic underpinnings of this approach remain unclear, however. Using quantitative proteomics and RNA sequencing, we explore the molecular basis of attenuation in a strain of bacteriophage T7 whose major capsid gene was engineered to carry 182 suboptimal codons. We do not detect transcriptional effects from recoding. Proteomic observations reveal that translation is halved for the recoded major capsid gene, and a more modest reduction applies to several coexpressed downstream genes. We observe no changes in protein abundances of other coexpressed genes that are encoded upstream. Viral burst size, like capsid protein abundance, is also decreased by half. Together, these observations suggest that, in this virus, reduced translation of an essential polycistronic transcript and diminished virion assembly form the molecular basis of attenuation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2957-2968
    Number of pages12
    JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


    • Bacteriophage T7
    • Codon
    • Deoptimization
    • Recoding
    • Translation
    • Viral attenuation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Genetics
    • Genetics(clinical)


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