1887

Abstract

In plant pararetroviruses, pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) directs synthesis of circular double-stranded viral DNA and serves as a polycistronic mRNA. By computer-aided analysis, the 14 plant pararetroviruses sequenced so far were compared with respect to structural organization of their pgRNA 5′-leader. The results revealed that the pgRNA of all these viruses carries a long leader sequence containing several short ORFs and having the potential to form a large stem–loop structure; both features are known to be inhibitory for downstream translation. Formation of the structure brings the first long ORF into the close spatial vicinity of a 5′-proximal short ORF that terminates 5 to 10 nt upstream of the stable structural element. The first long ORF on the pgRNA is translated by a ribosome shunt mechanism discovered in cauliflower mosaic (CaMV) and rice tungro bacilliform viruses, representing the two major groups of plant pararetroviruses. Both the short ORF and the structure have been implicated in the shunt process for CaMV pgRNA translation. The conservation of these elements among all plant pararetroviruses suggests conservation of the ribosome shunt mechanism. For some of the less well-studied viruses, the localization of the conserved elements also allowed predictions of the pgRNA promoter region and the translation start site of the first long ORF.

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1999-08-01
2019-10-17
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