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EMBO J. 1991 Apr;10(4):731-9.

Virus-like genetic organization and expression strategy for a double-stranded RNA genetic element associated with biological control of chestnut blight.

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Department of Molecular Oncology and Virology, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Roche Research Center, Nutley, NJ 07110.


The complete nucleotide sequence of the largest double-stranded (ds) RNA present in hypovirulent strain EP713 of the chestnut blight pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, was determined and the predicted genetic organization was confirmed by translational mapping analysis. The deduced RNA sequence was 12 712 bp in length, excluding the terminal poly(A):poly(U) homopolymer domain. The strand terminating with 3'-poly(A) contained two contiguous large open reading frames (ORF A and ORF B) beginning at nucleotide residues 496-498 and extending to nucleotide positions 11 859-11 861. The junction between ORF A and ORF B consisted of the sequence 5'-UAAUG-3', where UAA served as the termination codon for ORF A and AUG was the 5'-proximal initiation codon within ORF B. ORF A (622 codons in length, excluding the termination codon) was recently shown to encode two polypeptides, p29 and p40, which were generated from a nascent polyprotein by an autocatalytic event mediated by p29 (Choi et al., 1991). A similar autocatalytic event was observed during in vitro translation of ORF B (3165 codons in length) resulting in the release of a 48 kd polypeptide from the amino-terminal portion of the ORF B-encoded polyprotein. These results are discussed in terms of the opportunities they provide for elucidating the molecular basis of transmissible hypovirulence and possible origins of hypovirulence-associated dsRNAs.

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