Homologous RNA recombination in brome mosaic virus: AU-rich sequences decrease the accuracy of crossovers

Peter D. Nagy, Jozef J. Bujarski

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73 Scopus citations


Brome mosaic virus, a tripartite positive-stranded RNA virus of plants, was used for the determination of sequence requirements of imprecise (aberrant) homologous recombination. A 23-nucleotide (nt) region that included a 6-nt UUAAAA sequence (designated the AU sequence) common between wild-type RNA2 and mutant RNA3 supported both precise and imprecise homologous recombination, though the latter occurred with lower frequency. Doubling the length of the 6-nt AU sequence in RNA3 increased the incidence of imprecise crossovers by nearly threefold. Duplication or triplication of the length of the AU sequence in both RNA2 and RNA3 further raised the frequency of imprecise crossovers. The majority of imprecise crosses were located within or close to the extended AU sequence. Imprecise recombinants contained either nucleotide substitutions, nontemplated nucleotides, small deletions, or small sequence duplications within the region of crossovers. Deletion of the AU sequence from the homologous region in RNA3 resulted in the accumulation of only precise homologous recombinants. Our results provide experimental evidence that AU sequences can facilitate the formation of imprecise homologous recombinants. The generation of small additions or deletions can be explained by a misannealing mechanism within the AU sequences, while replicase errors during RNA copying might explain the occurrence of nucleotide substitutions or nontemplated nucleotides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-426
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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