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Open Access Research

Maintaining the structural integrity of the bamboo mosaic virus 3′ untranslated region is necessary for retaining the catalytic constant for minus-strand RNA synthesis

I-Hsuan Chen1, Chiu-Heiu Chu1, Jen-Wen Lin1, Yau-Heiu Hsu12 and Ching-Hsiu Tsai12*

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate Institute of Biotechnology, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung 40227, Taiwan

2 Graduate Institute of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:208  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-208

Published: 24 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) and the Potato virus X (PVX) are members of the genus Potexvirus and have a single-stranded positive-sense RNA genome. The 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of the BaMV RNA genome was mapped structurally into ABC (a cloverleaf-like), D (a stem-loop), and E (pseudoknot) domains. The BaMV replicase complex that was isolated from the infected plants was able to recognize the 3′ UTR of PVX RNA to initiate minus-strand RNA synthesis in vitro.

Results

To investigate whether the 3′ UTR of PVX RNA is also compatible with BaMV replicase in vivo, we constructed chimera mutants using a BaMV backbone containing the PVX 3′ UTR, which was inserted in or used to replace the various domains in the 3′ UTR of BaMV. None of the mutants, except for the mutant with the PVX 3′ UTR inserted upstream of the BaMV 3′ UTR, exhibited a detectable accumulation of viral RNA in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. The in vitro BaMV RdRp replication assay demonstrated that the RNA products were generated by the short RNA transcripts, which were derived from the chimera mutants to various extents. Furthermore, the Vmax/KM of the BaMV 3′ UTR (rABCDE) was approximately three fold higher than rABCP, rP, and rDE in minus-strand RNA synthesis. These mutants failed to accumulate viral products in protoplasts and plants, but were adequately replicated in vitro.

Conclusions

Among the various studied BaMV/PVX chimera mutants, the BaMV-S/PABCDE that contained non-interrupted BaMV 3′ UTR was the only mutant that exhibited a wild-type level of viral product accumulation in protoplasts and plants. These results indicate that the continuity of the domains in the 3′ UTR of BaMV RNA was not interrupted and the domains were not replaced with the 3′ UTR of PVX RNA in vivo.