Natural recombinant tobacco rattle tobravirus (TRV) isolates contain sequences from a different tobravirus, pea early browning virus (PEBV). To characterize the sequence requirements for viable recombinant formation hybrid cDNA clones of RNA2 of PEBV and TRV were assembled. Inclusion of 320 nt from the 5' terminus of PEBV or 335 nt from the 5' terminus of TRV in the hybrid RNAs was sufficient to permit their replication by, respectively, PEBV RNA1 or TRV RNA1 regardless of the origin of the 3' terminal region. However, PEBV RNA1 but not TRV RNA1 was sometimes able to support low level replication of RNA2 containing the heterologous 5' terminal region. In vitro translation of PEBV transcripts containing 5' noncoding region deletions supported the hypothesis that in vivo the PEBV coat protein (CP) is expressed from a subgenomic RNA and that, therefore, in the recombinants the CP subgenomic promoter probably is recognized by the replicase of the heterologous virus.


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