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Virus Res. 2011 Nov;161(2):203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2011.07.023. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Conserved and variable structural elements in the 5' untranslated region of two hypoviruses from the filamentous fungus Cryphonectria parasitica.

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Molecular Biology Program, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA.


Virulence-attenuating viruses (hypoviruses) of the filamentous fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, the causative agent of chestnut blight, have become a premier model for understanding the molecular biology of mycoviruses. However, a major gap exists in current understanding of structure and function of the untranslated regions (UTRs) of the hypovirus RNA genome, despite considerable evidence that secondary and tertiary UTR structure plays a crucial role in the control of translation and genome replication in other systems. In this study we have used structure prediction software coupled with RNase digestion studies to develop validated structural models for the 5' UTRs of the two best-characterized members of the Hypoviridae, CHV1-EP713 and CHV1-Euro7. These two hypovirus strains exhibit significant variation in virulence attenuation despite sharing >90% sequence identity. Our models reveal highly structured regions in the 5' UTR of both strains, with numerous stem-loops suggestive of internal ribosome entry sites. However, considerable differences in the size and complexity of structural elements exist between the two strains. These data will guide future, mutagenesis-based studies of the structural requirements for hypovirus genome replication and translation.

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