During the replication of Lelystad virus in alveolar lung macrophages, a 3′-coterminal nested set of six subgenomic RNAs (RNA2 to RNA7) is formed. These contain a common leader sequence derived from the 5′ non-coding region of the genomic RNA. In this study, the sequence of the junction sites, i.e. the sites where the leader sequence joins to the body of the subgenomic RNA, was determined for all six subgenomic RNAs. For each subgenomic RNA, six to nine cDNA clones were isolated by means of reverse transcription and PCR. The nucleotide sequence at the junction site was identical for all eight cDNA clones derived from subgenomic RNA4. However, heterogeneity was observed in the nucleotide sequence surrounding the junction sites of the cDNA clones derived from subgenomic RNAs 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7. This heterogeneity suggests that the fusion of the leader to the body of the subgenomic RNA may be imprecise. The junction sites of the six subgenomic RNAs had a conserved sequence motif of six nucleotides (UCAACC or a highly similar sequence). The distance between the junction site and the translation initiation codon of the downstream open reading frame varied from nine to 83 nucleotides.


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