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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2006;44:61-87.

Genome packaging by spherical plant RNA viruses.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, California 92521-0122, USA.


The majority of positive-strand RNA viruses of plants replicate and selectively encapsidate their progeny genomes into stable virions in cytoplasmic compartments of the cell where the opportunity to copackage cellular RNA also exists. Remarkably, highly purified infectious virions contain almost exclusively viral RNA, suggesting that mechanisms exist to regulate preferential packaging of viral genomes. The general principle that governs RNA packaging is an interaction between the structural CP and a specific RNA signal. Mechanisms that enhance selective packaging of viral genomes and formation of infectious virions may involve factors other than CP and nucleic acid sequences. The possible involvement of replicase proteins is an example. Our knowledge concerning genome packaging among spherical plant RNA viruses is still maturing. The main focus of this review is to discuss factors that have limited progress and to evaluate recent technical breakthroughs likely to help unravel the mechanism of RNA packaging among viruses of agronomic importance. A key breakthrough is the development of in vivo systems and comparisons with results obtained in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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