Interviral recombination between plant, insect, and fungal RNA viruses: Role of the intracellular Ca2+/Mn2+ Pump

Nikolay Kovalev, Judit Pogany, Peter D. Nagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recombination is one of the driving forces of viral evolution. RNA recombination events among similar RNA viruses are frequent, although RNA recombination could also take place among unrelated viruses. In this paper, we have established efficient interviral recombination systems based on yeast and plants. We show that diverse RNA viruses, including the plant viruses tomato bushy stunt virus, carnation Italian ringspot virus, and turnip crinkle virus-associated RNA; the insect plus-strand RNA [(-)RNA] viruses Flock House virus and Nodamura virus; and the double-stranded L-A virus of yeast, are involved in interviral recombination events. Most interviral recombinants are minus-strand recombinant RNAs, and the junction sites are not randomly distributed, but there are certain hot spot regions. Formation of interviral recombinants in yeast and plants is accelerated by depletion of the cellular SERCA-like Pmr1 ATPase-driven Ca2+/ Mn2+ pump, regulating intracellular Ca2+ and Mn2+ influx into the Golgi apparatus from the cytosol. The interviral recombinants are generated by a template-switching mechanism during RNA replication by the viral replicase. Replication studies revealed that a group of interviral recombinants is replication competent in cell-free extracts, in yeast, and in the plant Nicotiana benthamiana. We propose that there are major differences among the viral replicases to generate and maintain interviral recombinants. Altogether, the obtained data promote the model that host factors greatly contribute to the formation of recombinants among related and unrelated viruses. This is the first time that a host factor's role in affecting interviral recombination is established. IMPORTANCE Viruses with RNA genomes are abundant, and their genomic sequences show astonishing variation. Genetic recombination in RNA viruses is a major force behind their rapid evolution, enhanced pathogenesis, and adaptation to their hosts. We utilized a previously identified intracellular Ca2+/Mn2+ pump-deficient yeast to search for interviral recombinants. Noninfectious viral replication systems were used to avoid generating unwanted infectious interviral recombinants. Altogether, interviral RNA recombinants were observed between plant and insect viruses, and between a fungal double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) virus and an insect virus, in the yeast host. In addition, interviral recombinants between two plant virus replicon RNAs were identified in N. benthamiana plants, in which the intracellular Ca2+/ Mn2+ pump was depleted. These findings underline the crucial role of the host in promoting RNA recombination among unrelated viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01015-19
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


  • Calcium manganese pump
  • Host factor
  • Interviral
  • Plant
  • RNA recombination
  • Replicase complex
  • Replication
  • TBSV
  • Tombusvirus
  • Yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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