RNA transcripts of both (+) and (-) polarities were obtained from a circularly permuted dimer clone of the small satellite of arabis mosaic virus (sArMV). The transcripts show efficient self-cleavage at the two specific sites in the sequence where the monomers were joined. Autolytic processing of the full-length transcript in both orientations releases promoter-proximate fragments (+) or (-) P, promoter-distal fragments (+) or (-) D, and the monomer fragments (+) or (-) M. The presence of an OH group at their 5′ ends and a 2′,3′ cyclophosphate at their 3′ ends suggests that (+) and (-) M originated via two self-cleavage reactions within the full-length transcript of corresponding polarity. Infectivity assays showed that the (+) M fragment but not the (-) M fragment initiates replication as efficiently as the natural linear sArMV in . Two (-) fragments were identified which are the result of religation activity: a P-D fragment formed by religation of P and D, and c-M, which is the result of efficient self-ligation of (-) M. In contrast, linear (+) M self-ligates to a very limited extent but could be circularized enzymically in a wheat germ extract.


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