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Mol Microbiol. 1991 Oct;5(10):2331-8.

Yeast dsRNA viruses: replication and killer phenotypes.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655.


The cytoplasmic L-A dsRNA virus of Saccharomyces cerevisiae consists of a 4.5 kb dsRNA and the two gene products it encodes; the capsid (cap) and at least one copy of the capsid-polymerase (cap-pol) fusion protein. Virion cap-pol catalyses transcription of the plus (sense)-strand; this is extruded from the virus and serves as messenger for synthesis of cap and cap-pol. Nascent cap-pol binds to a specific domain in the plus strand to initiate encapsidation and then catalyses minus-strand synthesis to complete the replication cycle. Products of at least three host genes are required for replication, and virus copy number is kept at tolerable levels by the SKI antivirus system. S. cerevisiae killer viruses are satellite dsRNAs that use a similar encapsidation domain to parasitize the L-A replication machinery. They encode precursors of secreted polypeptide toxins and immunity (specific resistance) determinants and are self-selecting. Three unique killer types, K1, K2 and K28, are currently recognized. They are distinguished by an absence of cross-immunity and by toxin properties and lethal mechanisms; while K1 and K2 toxins bind to cell-wall glucan and disrupt membrane functions, K28 toxin binds to mannoprotein and causes inhibition of DNA synthesis.

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