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J Virol. 2006 Dec;80(24):12357-66. Epub 2006 Sep 27.

Characterization of a novel 5' subgenomic RNA3a derived from RNA3 of Brome mosaic bromovirus.

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  • 1Plant Molecular Biology Center and the Department of Biological Sciences, Montgomery Hall, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, IL 60115, USA.


The synthesis of 3' subgenomic RNA4 (sgRNA4) by initiation from an internal sg promoter in the RNA3 segment was first described for Brome mosaic bromovirus (BMV), a model tripartite positive-sense RNA virus (W. A. Miller, T. W. Dreher, and T. C. Hall, Nature 313:68-70, 1985). In this work, we describe a novel 5' sgRNA of BMV (sgRNA3a) that we propose arises by premature internal termination and that encapsidates in BMV virions. Cloning and sequencing revealed that, unlike any other BMV RNA segment, sgRNA3a carries a 3' oligo(A) tail, in which respect it resembles cellular mRNAs. Indeed, both the accumulation of sgRNA3a in polysomes and the synthesis of movement protein 3a in in vitro systems suggest active functions of sgRNA3a during protein synthesis. Moreover, when copied in the BMV replicase in vitro reaction, the minus-strand RNA3 template generated the sgRNA3a product, likely by premature termination at the minus-strand oligo(U) tract. Deletion of the oligo(A) tract in BMV RNA3 inhibited synthesis of sgRNA3a during infection. We propose a model in which the synthesis of RNA3 is terminated prematurely near the sg promoter. The discovery of 5' sgRNA3a sheds new light on strategies viruses can use to separate replication from the translation functions of their genomic RNAs.

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