Plants infected with cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) (KIN strain) produce a mild mosaic disease on tobacco whereas infections of CMV with satellite RNA (strain Y) cause a severe yellow mosaic. Analysis of recombinant and mutant forms of satellite RNA identified a site (nucleotides 185/186) in the Y satellite RNA that affects the ability to induce the yellow mosaic in combination with CMV but not with tomato aspermy virus. The location of this site with respect to other mutations in the satellite RNA indicated that polypeptides, which may be encoded by the satellite RNA, have no role in induction of yellow mosaic symptoms. The symptom induction is therefore an effect of the satellite RNA on the host plant with the intervention of the helper virus. In the course of the mutation analysis of satellite RNA were detected several secondary mutations which arose . Two of these were deletions of more than 80 nucleotides. Other forms of mutant satellite RNA were non-functional even though the modifications involved nucleotides completely within the large secondary deletions. These data imply complex intramolecular interactions in the satellite RNA.


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