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J Virol. 2012 Dec;86(23):12933-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00961-12. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Variations in hypovirus interactions with the fungal-host RNA-silencing antiviral-defense response.

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Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, University of Maryland, Rockville, Maryland, USA.


Hypoviruses Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 (CHV-1)/EP713, CHV-1/Euro7, and CHV-1/EP721, which infect the chestnut blight fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, differ in their degrees of virulence attenuation (hypovirulence), symptom expression, and viral RNA accumulation, even though they share between 90% and 99% amino acid sequence identity. In this report we examine whether this variability is influenced by interactions with the C. parasitica Dicer gene dcl2-dependent RNA-silencing antiviral defense response. The mild symptoms exhibited by strains infected with CHV-1/Euro7 and CHV-1/EP721 relative to those with severe hypovirus CHV-1/EP713 did not correlate with a higher induction of the RNA-silencing pathway. Rather, dcl2 transcripts accumulated to a higher level (∼8-fold) following infection by CHV-1/EP713 than following infection by CHV-1/Euro7 (1.2-fold) or CHV-1/EP721 (1.4-fold). The differences in dcl2 transcript accumulation in response to CHV-1/EP713 and CHV-1/EP721 were unrelated to the suppressor of RNA silencing, p29, encoded by the two viruses. Moreover, the coding strand viral RNA levels increased by 33-, 32-, and 16-fold for CHV-1/EP713, CHV-1/Euro7, and CHV-1/EP721, respectively, in Δdcl2 mutant strains. This indicates that a very robust antiviral RNA-silencing response was induced against all three viruses, even though significant differences in the levels of dcl2 transcript accumulation were observed. Unexpectedly, the severe debilitation previously reported for CHV-1/EP713-infected Δdcl2 mutant strains, and observed here for the CHV-1/Euro7-infected Δdcl2 mutant strains, was not observed with infection by CHV-1/EP721. By constructing chimeric viruses containing portions of CHV-1/EP713 and CHV-1/EP721, it was possible to map the region that is associated with the severe debilitation of the Δdcl2 mutant hosts to a 4.1-kb coding domain located in the central part of the CHV-1/EP713 genome.

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