The complete nucleotide sequence (3080 nt) of an infectious DNA clone derived from the geminivirus horseradish curly top virus (HrCTV) has been determined. The relationship of HrCTV to other gemini-viruses was examined using dot matrix plots of nucleotide sequence similarities, and by phylogeny of predicted amino acid sequences of individual ORFs based upon parsimony or neighbour-joining methods. These analyses indicate that the V1 and V2 virion sense ORFs of HrCTV are most closely related to, yet distinct from, the corresponding ORFs of the subgroup II geminivirus beet curly top virus (BCTV). HrCTV also encodes a third virion sense ORF (V3) which is similar (72–74% amino acid identity) to the BCTV V3 ORF; however, the HrCTV V3 ORF has diverged in sequence to a greater extent relative to that observed among isolates of BCTV (98–100% amino acid identity). The HrCTV genome encodes only three complementary sense ORFs (C1, C2 and C4) and lacks a C3 ORF which is conserved among all other subgroup II and III geminiviruses characterized to date. Although the neighbour-joining analysis indicated that the HrCTV C2 ORF was distantly related to the C2 ORF of BCTV, the predicted amino acid sequence deduced from the HrCTV C2 ORF lacks the characteristic zinc-finger domain present in the transcriptional activating protein (TrAP) encoded by the subgroup III ORF AC2, which is also retained within the TrAP-related product of the BCTV C2 ORF. Surprisingly, the rep and C4 proteins encoded by HrCTV share a closer phylogenetic relationship to the corresponding proteins of the subgroup III geminivirus squash leaf curl virus (SLCV) than to BCTV. These results suggest that the HrCTV genome may have arisen by a recombination event between a BCTV-like subgroup II virus ancestor and an SLCV-like subgroup III virus ancestor. Possible mechanisms that may explain recombination events among geminiviruses are discussed.


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