Mechanism of RNA Recombination in Carmo- and Tombusviruses: Evidence for Template Switching by the RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase In Vitro

Chi Ping Cheng, Peter D. Nagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations

Abstract

RNA recombination occurs frequently during replication of tombusviruses and carmoviruses, which are related small plus-sense RNA viruses of plants. The most common recombinants generated by these viruses are either defective interfering (DI) RNAs or chimeric satellite RNAs, which are thought to be generated by template switching of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) during the viral replication process. To test if RNA recombination is mediated by the viral RdRp, we used either a purified recombinant RdRp of Turnip crinkle carmovirus or a partially purified RdRp preparation of Cucumber necrosis tombusvirus. We demonstrated that these RdRp preparations generated RNA recombinants in vitro. The RdRp-driven template switching events occurred between either identical templates or two different RNA templates. The template containing a replication enhancer recombined more efficiently than templates containing artificial sequences. We also observed that AU-rich sequences promote recombination more efficiently than GC-rich sequences. Cloning and sequencing of the generated recombinants revealed that the junction sites were located frequently at the ends of the templates (end-to-end template switching). We also found several recombinants that were generated by template switching involving internal positions in the RNA templates. In contrast, RNA ligation-based RNA recombination was not detected in vitro. Demonstration of the ability of carmo- and tombusvirus RdRps to switch RNA templates in vitro supports the copy-choice models of RNA recombination and DI RNA formation for these viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12033-12047
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume77
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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