Mechanism of stimulation of plus-strand synthesis by an RNA replication enhancer in a tombusvirus

Tadas Panavas, Peter D. Nagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Replication of RNA viruses is regulated by cis-acting RNA elements, including promoters, replication silencers, and replication enhancers (REN). To dissect the function of an REN element involved in plus-strand RNA synthesis, we developed an in vitro trans-replication assay for tombusviruses, which are small plus-strand RNA viruses. In this assay, two RNA strands were tethered together via short complementary regions with the REN present in the nontemplate RNA, whereas the promoter was located in the template RNA. We found that the template activity of the tombusvirus replicase preparation was stimulated in trans by the REN, suggesting that the REN is a functional enhancer when located in the vicinity of the promoter. In addition, this study revealed that the REN has dual function during RNA synthesis. (i) It binds to the viral replicase. (ii) It interacts with the core plus-strand initiation promoter via a long-distance RNA-RNA interaction, which leads to stimulation of initiation of plus-strand RNA synthesis by the replicase in vitro. We also observed that this RNA-RNA interaction increased the in vivo accumulation and competitiveness of defective interfering RNA, a model template. We propose that REN is important for asymmetrical viral RNA replication that leads to more abundant plus-strand RNA progeny than the minus-strand intermediate, a hallmark of replication of plus-strand RNA viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9777-9785
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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