Silencing homologous RNA recombination hot spots with GC-rich sequences in brome mosaic virus

Peter D. Nagy, Jozef J. Bujarski

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34 Scopus citations


It has been observed that AU-rich sequences form homologous recombination hot spots in brome mosaic virus (BMV), a tripartite positive- stranded RNA virus of plants (P. D. Nagy and J. J. Bujarski, J. Virol. 71:3799-3810, 1997). To study the effect of GC-rich sequences on the recombination hot spots, we inserted 30-nucleotide-long GC-rich sequences downstream of AU-rich homologous recombination hot spot regions in parental BMV RNAs (RNA2 and RNA3). Although these insertions doubled the length of sequence identity in RNA2 and RNA3, the incidence of homologous RNA2 and RNA3 recombination was reduced markedly. Four different, both highly structured and nonstructured downstream GC-rich sequences had a similar 'homologous recombination silencing' effect on the nearby hot spots. The GC-rich sequence-mediated recombination silencing mapped to RNA2, as it was observed when the GC-rich sequence was inserted at downstream locations in both RNA2 and RNA3 or only in the RNA2 component. On the contrary, when the downstream GC-rich sequence was present only in the RNA3 component, it increased the incidence of homologous recombination. In addition, upstream insertions of similar GC-rich sequences increased the incidence of homologous recombination within downstream hot spot regions. Overall, this study reveals the complex nature of homologous recombination in BMV, where sequences flanking the common hot spot regions affect recombination frequency. A replicase-driven template-switching model is presented to explain recombination silencing by GC-rich sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1122-1130
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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