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Cell. 1987 Apr 24;49(2):211-20.

Self-cleavage of plus and minus RNAs of a virusoid and a structural model for the active sites.


Virusoids are circular single-stranded RNAs dependent on plant viruses for replication and encapsidation. Virusoid replication appears to involve longer-than-unit-length plus and minus RNAs, indicating that unit-length plus RNA is generated by specific cleavage reactions. Here, we synthesize plus and minus partial-length RNAs of the 324-nucleotide virusoid from lucerne transient streak virus in vitro. Both RNAs self-cleave at a unique site in the presence of magnesium ions to give 5' hydroxyl and 2',3' cyclic phosphodiester termini. Conformations other than the native structures are necessary for cleavage. Similar secondary structures with considerable sequence homology are proposed for the active sites of these and other plant pathogenic RNAs. Our results are consistent with certain rolling-circle replication models.

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