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J Gen Virol. 2009 Sep;90(Pt 9):2191-200. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.012104-0. Epub 2009 May 27.

Drosophila A virus is an unusual RNA virus with a T=3 icosahedral core and permuted RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.

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School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


The vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a popular model for the study of invertebrate antiviral immune responses. Several picorna-like viruses are commonly found in both wild and laboratory populations of D. melanogaster. The best-studied and most pathogenic of these is the dicistrovirus Drosophila C virus. Among the uncharacterized small RNA viruses of D. melanogaster, Drosophila A virus (DAV) is the least pathogenic. Historically, DAV has been labelled as a picorna-like virus based on its particle size and the content of its RNA genome. Here, we describe the characterization of both the genome and the virion structure of DAV. Unexpectedly, the DAV genome was shown to encode a circular permutation in the palm-domain motifs of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. This arrangement has only been described previously for a subset of viruses from the double-stranded RNA virus family Birnaviridae and the T=4 single-stranded RNA virus family Tetraviridae. The 8 A (0.8 nm) DAV virion structure computed from cryo-electron microscopy and image reconstruction indicates that the virus structural protein forms two discrete domains within the capsid. The inner domain is formed from a clear T=3 lattice with similarity to the beta-sandwich domain of tomato bushy stunt virus, whilst the outer domain is not ordered icosahedrally, but forms a cage-like structure that surrounds the core domain. Taken together, this indicates that DAV is highly divergent from previously described viruses.

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