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J Virol. 2009 Oct;83(20):10472-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00665-09. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

Tomato bushy stunt virus recombination guided by introduced microRNA target sequences.

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  • 1Plant Biology Graduate Group, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Previously we described Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) vectors, which retained their capsid protein gene and were engineered with magnesium chelatase (ChlH) and phytoene desaturase (PDS) gene sequences from Nicotiana benthamiana. Upon plant infection, these vectors eventually lost the inserted sequences, presumably as a result of recombination. Here, we modified the same vectors to also contain the plant miR171 or miR159 target sequences immediately 3' of the silencing inserts. We inoculated N. benthamiana plants and sequenced recombinant RNAs recovered from noninoculated upper leaves. We found that while some of the recombinant RNAs retained the microRNA (miRNA) target sites, most retained only the 3' 10 and 13 nucleotides of the two original plant miRNA target sequences, indicating in planta miRNA-guided RNA-induced silencing complex cleavage of the recombinant TBSV RNAs. In addition, recovered RNAs also contained various fragments of the original sequence (ChlH and PDS) upstream of the miRNA cleavage site, suggesting that the 3' portion of the miRNA-cleaved TBSV RNAs served as a template for negative-strand RNA synthesis by the TBSV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), followed by template switching by the RdRp and continued RNA synthesis resulting in loss of nonessential nucleotides.

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