The complete sequence of the tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) M RNA segment has been determined. The RNA is 4821 nucleotides long and has an ambisense coding strategy similar to that of the S RNA segment. The M RNA segment contains two open reading frames (ORFs), one in the viral sense which encodes a protein with a predicted size of 33.6K, and one in the viral complementary sense which encodes the precursor to the G1 and G2 glycoproteins, with a predicted size of 127.4K. Both ORFs are expressed via the synthesis of subgenomic mRNAs that possibly terminate at a stable hairpin structure, located in the intergenic region. The precursor for the glycoproteins contains a sequence motif (RGD) which is characteristic of cellular attachment domains. Significant sequence homology was found between the G1 glycoproteins of members of the genus Bunyavirus and a corresponding region in the glycoprotein precursor of TSWV, indicating a close evolutionary relationship between these viruses. With the elucidation of the M RNA sequence, the complete nucleotide sequence of TSWV has been determined. TSWV represents the first member of the Bunyaviridae shown to contain two ambisense RNA segments.


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