Recently published evidence for sequence repetition in potyvirus genomes prompted us to analyse the published complete genome sequences and coat protein gene sequences of viruses of this family for evidence of replication slippage. Five of nine complete genomic sequences and 17 of 32 coat protein genes had significant sequence repetitions. Most of these were in coat protein genes, although the 5′ region of the turnip mosaic virus genome also showed evidence of slippage. The results suggest that replication slippage may be involved in the evolution of viruses, as well as prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and that slippage can occur in both RNA and DNA when it is being replicated.


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