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Virol J. 2012 Jul 28;9:140. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-9-140.

Molecular characterization of totiviruses in Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous.

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Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Laboratorio de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Las Palmeras 3425, Casilla 653, Santiago, Chile.



Occurrence of extrachromosomal dsRNA elements has been described in the red-yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous, with numbers and sizes that are highly variable among strains with different geographical origin. The studies concerning to the encapsidation in viral-like particles and dsRNA-curing have suggested that some dsRNAs are helper viruses, while others are satellite viruses. However, the nucleotide sequences and functions of these dsRNAs are still unknown. In this work, the nucleotide sequences of four dsRNAs of the strain UCD 67-385 of X. dendrorhous were determined, and their identities and genome structures are proposed. Based on this molecular data, the dsRNAs of different strains of X. dendrorhous were analyzed.


The complete sequences of L1, L2, S1 and S2 dsRNAs of X. dendrorhous UCD 67-385 were determined, finding two sequences for L1 dsRNA (L1A and L1B). Several ORFs were uncovered in both S1 and S2 dsRNAs, but no homologies were found for any of them when compared to the database. Instead, two ORFs were identified in each L1A, L1B and L2 dsRNAs, whose deduced amino acid sequences were homologous with a major capsid protein (5'-ORF) and a RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (3'-ORF) belonging to the Totiviridae family. The genome structures of these dsRNAs are characteristic of Totiviruses, with two overlapped ORFs (the 3'-ORF in the -1 frame with respect to the 5'-ORF), with a slippery site and a pseudoknot in the overlapped regions. These structures are essential for the synthesis of the viral polymerase as a fusion protein with the viral capsid protein through -1 ribosomal frameshifting. In the RNase protection analysis, all the dsRNAs in the four analyzed X. dendrorhous strains were protected from enzymatic digestion. The RT-PCR analysis revealed that, similar to strain UCD 67-385, the L1A and L1B dsRNAs coexist in the strains VKM Y-2059, UCD 67-202 and VKM Y-2786. Furthermore, determinations of the relative amounts of L1 dsRNAs using two-step RT-qPCR revealed a 40-fold increment of the ratio L1A/L1B in the S2 dsRNA-cured strain compared to its parental strain.


Three totiviruses, named as XdV-L1A, XdV-L1B and XdV-L2, were identified in the strain UCD 67-385 of X. dendrorhous. The viruses XdV-L1A and XdV-L1B were also found in other three X. dendrorhous strains. Our results suggest that the smaller dsRNAs (named XdRm-S1 and XdRm-S2) of strain UCD 67-385 are satellite viruses, and particularly that XdRm-S2 is a satellite of XdV-L1A.

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