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Virology. 1995 Oct 1;212(2):705-9.

Intra- and intermolecular nonenzymatic ligations occur within transcripts derived from the peach latent mosaic viroid.

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Département de Biochimie, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.


We report here the nonenzymatic self-ligation of transcripts corresponding to the peach latent mosaic viroid (PLMVd). This is the first description of this process with viroid sequences, although it has been reported to occur with human hepatitis delta virus RNA. Self-ligation occurs when the 5'-hydroxyl and the 2',3'-cyclic phosphate termini produced by the hammerhead self-cleavage of the viroid RNA are juxtaposed by the viroid rod-like structure, and a phosphodiester bond is formed between the two following hydrolysis of the cyclic phosphate. Unit-length transcripts undergo intramolecular folding, and their subsequent self-ligation produces circular molecules. The self-ligation observed in vitro may contribute to PLMVd circularization during rolling circle replication; however, this does not exclude the possibility that a host RNA ligase catalyzes the ligation steps in vivo. Like self-cleavage, self-ligation is probably an ancestral reaction, and the enzyme-catalyzed ligation most likely evolved from this primitive mechanism. Furthermore, the intermolecular self-ligation of annealed transcripts derived from PLMVd is demonstrated, suggesting a possible mechanism for sequence reassortment in viroids.

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