Libraries of cloned cDNA were prepared from complete genomic RNA and isolated S RNA of the Bulgarian L3 isolate of tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV-L3). Northern blotting of TSWV genomic RNA detected clones specific for the L, M and S RNAs in the library from complete RNA. S RNA-specific clones selected from both libraries covered approximately 2·8 kb (about 95%) of the S RNA. Sequencing of these clones showed TSWV-L3 S RNA to be ambisense. It contains two open reading frames (ORFs); one of 1401 nucleotides located on the viral RNA encodes an 52400 (52K) protein, and the other of 774 nucleotides on the complementary strand encodes an 28900 (29K) protein. Expression of the 29K ORF in bacteria and immunological analysis of the fusion protein synthesized confirmed that the 29K protein is the N protein of TSWV-L3. Comparison with the published sequence for the S RNA of a Brazilian TSWV isolate, CNPH1, revealed almost complete identity in the amino acid sequences for the 29K protein, but several clustered amino acid exchanges in the putative 52K protein. In addition, the separating non-translated intergenic region of the S RNA of the Bulgarian isolate is 81 nucleotides longer than that of CNPH1.


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