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1.  The water flea Daphnia - a 'new' model system for ecology and evolution? 
Journal of Biology  2010;9(2):21.
Daphnia pulex is the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced. Availability of the genome sequence will have implications for research in aquatic ecology and evolution in particular, as addressed by a series of papers published recently in BMC Evolutionary Biology and BMC Genomics.
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PMCID: PMC2871515  PMID: 20478012
2.  Evolutionary genomics of mycovirus-related dsRNA viruses reveals cross-family horizontal gene transfer and evolution of diverse viral lineages 
Double-stranded (ds) RNA fungal viruses are typically isometric single-shelled particles that are classified into three families, Totiviridae, Partitiviridae and Chrysoviridae, the members of which possess monopartite, bipartite and quadripartite genomes, respectively. Recent findings revealed that mycovirus-related dsRNA viruses are more diverse than previously recognized. Although an increasing number of viral complete genomic sequences have become available, the evolution of these diverse dsRNA viruses remains to be clarified. This is particularly so since there is little evidence for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) among dsRNA viruses.
In this study, we report the molecular properties of two novel dsRNA mycoviruses that were isolated from a field strain of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Sunf-M: one is a large monopartite virus representing a distinct evolutionary lineage of dsRNA viruses; the other is a new member of the family Partitiviridae. Comprehensive phylogenetic analysis and genome comparison revealed that there are at least ten monopartite, three bipartite, one tripartite and three quadripartite lineages in the known dsRNA mycoviruses and that the multipartite lineages have possibly evolved from different monopartite dsRNA viruses. Moreover, we found that homologs of the S7 Domain, characteristic of members of the genus phytoreovirus in family Reoviridae are widely distributed in diverse dsRNA viral lineages, including chrysoviruses, endornaviruses and some unclassified dsRNA mycoviruses. We further provided evidence that multiple HGT events may have occurred among these dsRNA viruses from different families.
Our study provides an insight into the phylogeny and evolution of mycovirus-related dsRNA viruses and reveals that the occurrence of HGT between different virus species and the development of multipartite genomes during evolution are important macroevolutionary mechanisms in dsRNA viruses.
PMCID: PMC3483285  PMID: 22716092
3.  Polymorphism of viral dsRNA in Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous strains isolated from different geographic areas 
Virology Journal  2009;6:160.
Strains of the astaxanthin producing yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous have been isolated from different cold regions around the earth, and the presence of double stranded RNA (dsRNA) elements was described in some isolates. This kind of viruses is widely distributed among yeasts and filamentous fungi and, although generally are cryptic in function, their studies have been a key factor in the knowledge of important fungi. In this work, the characterization and genetic relationships among dsRNA elements were determined in strains representatives of almost all regions of the earth where X. dendrorhous have been isolated.
Almost all strains of X. dendrorhous analyzed carry one, two or four dsRNA elements, of molecular sizes in the range from 0.8 to 5.0 kb. Different dsRNA-patterns were observed in strains with different geographic origin, being L1 (5.0 kb) the common dsRNA element. By hybridization assays a high genomic polymorphism was observed among L1 dsRNAs of different X. dendrorhous strains. Contrary, hybridization was observed between L1 and L2 dsRNAs of strains from same or different regions, while the dsRNA elements of minor sizes (M, S1, and S2) present in several strains did not show hybridization with neither L1 or L2 dsRNAs. Along the growth curve of UCD 67-385 (harboring four dsRNAs) an increase of L2 relative to L1 dsRNA was observed, whiles the S1/L1 ratio remains constant, as well as the M/L1 ratio of Patagonian strain. Strains cured of S2 dsRNA were obtained by treatment with anisomycin, and comparison of its dsRNA contents with uncured strain, revealed an increase of L1 dsRNA while the L2 and S1 dsRNA remain unaltered.
The dsRNA elements of X. dendrorhous are highly variable in size and sequence, and the dsRNA pattern is specific to the geographic region of isolation. Each L1 and L2 dsRNA are viral elements able to self replicate and to coexist into a cell, and L1 and S2 dsRNAs elements could be part of a helper/satellite virus system in X. dendrorhous.
PMCID: PMC2764699  PMID: 19814805
4.  Viral RNA Intermediates as Targets for Detection and Discovery of Novel and Emerging Mosquito-Borne Viruses 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(3):e0003629.
Mosquito-borne viruses encompass a range of virus families, comprising a number of significant human pathogens (e.g., dengue viruses, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus). Virulent strains of these viruses are continually evolving and expanding their geographic range, thus rapid and sensitive screening assays are required to detect emerging viruses and monitor their prevalence and spread in mosquito populations. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is produced during the replication of many of these viruses as either an intermediate in RNA replication (e.g., flaviviruses, togaviruses) or the double-stranded RNA genome (e.g., reoviruses). Detection and discovery of novel viruses from field and clinical samples usually relies on recognition of antigens or nucleotide sequences conserved within a virus genus or family. However, due to the wide antigenic and genetic variation within and between viral families, many novel or divergent species can be overlooked by these approaches. We have developed two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) which show co-localised staining with proteins involved in viral RNA replication in immunofluorescence assay (IFA), suggesting specific reactivity to viral dsRNA. By assessing binding against a panel of synthetic dsRNA molecules, we have shown that these mAbs recognise dsRNA greater than 30 base pairs in length in a sequence-independent manner. IFA and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were employed to demonstrate detection of a panel of RNA viruses from several families, in a range of cell types. These mAbs, termed monoclonal antibodies to viral RNA intermediates in cells (MAVRIC), have now been incorporated into a high-throughput, economical ELISA-based screening system for the detection and discovery of viruses from mosquito populations. Our results have demonstrated that this simple system enables the efficient detection and isolation of a range of known and novel viruses in cells inoculated with field-caught mosquito samples, and represents a rapid, sequence-independent, and cost-effective approach to virus discovery.
Author Summary
This paper describes a simple and cost-effective system for screening biological samples for virus-infection. The authors demonstrate the application of two antibodies to detect double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) which is a common molecule produced in infection by a number of different viruses. The use of antibodies which react with double-stranded RNA independently of sequence allows for detection of a diverse range of viruses and has been instrumental in the detection of known arboviruses from three different families and the discovery of a number of previously unknown viruses from Australian mosquito populations. This system provides a rapid and economical approach to virus surveillance and discovery. This is the first report of anti-dsRNA antibodies used in a streamlined system for virus detection and discovery in field-caught samples.
PMCID: PMC4370754  PMID: 25799391
5.  Functional Specialization of the Small Interfering RNA Pathway in Response to Virus Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(8):e1003579.
In Drosophila, post-transcriptional gene silencing occurs when exogenous or endogenous double stranded RNA (dsRNA) is processed into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) by Dicer-2 (Dcr-2) in association with a dsRNA-binding protein (dsRBP) cofactor called Loquacious (Loqs-PD). siRNAs are then loaded onto Argonaute-2 (Ago2) by the action of Dcr-2 with another dsRBP cofactor called R2D2. Loaded Ago2 executes the destruction of target RNAs that have sequence complementarity to siRNAs. Although Dcr-2, R2D2, and Ago2 are essential for innate antiviral defense, the mechanism of virus-derived siRNA (vsiRNA) biogenesis and viral target inhibition remains unclear. Here, we characterize the response mechanism mediated by siRNAs against two different RNA viruses that infect Drosophila. In both cases, we show that vsiRNAs are generated by Dcr-2 processing of dsRNA formed during viral genome replication and, to a lesser extent, viral transcription. These vsiRNAs seem to preferentially target viral polyadenylated RNA to inhibit viral replication. Loqs-PD is completely dispensable for silencing of the viruses, in contrast to its role in silencing endogenous targets. Biogenesis of vsiRNAs is independent of both Loqs-PD and R2D2. R2D2, however, is required for sorting and loading of vsiRNAs onto Ago2 and inhibition of viral RNA expression. Direct injection of viral RNA into Drosophila results in replication that is also independent of Loqs-PD. This suggests that triggering of the antiviral pathway is not related to viral mode of entry but recognition of intrinsic features of virus RNA. Our results indicate the existence of a vsiRNA pathway that is separate from the endogenous siRNA pathway and is specifically triggered by virus RNA. We speculate that this unique framework might be necessary for a prompt and efficient antiviral response.
Author Summary
The RNA interference (RNAi) pathway utilizes small non-coding RNAs to silence gene expression. In insects, RNAi regulates endogenous genes and functions as an RNA-based immune system against viral infection. Here we have uncovered details of how RNAi is triggered by RNA viruses. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) generated as a replication intermediate or from transcription of the RNA virus can be used as substrate for the biogenesis of virus-derived small interfering RNAs (vsiRNAs). Unlike other dsRNAs, virus RNA processing involves Dicer but not its canonical partner protein Loqs-PD. Thus, vsiRNA biogenesis is mechanistically different from biogenesis of endogenous siRNAs or siRNAs derived from other exogenous RNA sources. Our results suggest a specialization of the pathway dedicated to silencing of RNA viruses versus other types of RNAi silencing. The understanding of RNAi mechanisms during viral infection could have implications for the control of insect-borne viruses and the use of siRNAs to treat viral infections in humans.
PMCID: PMC3757037  PMID: 24009507
6.  Double-Stranded RNA Is Produced by Positive-Strand RNA Viruses and DNA Viruses but Not in Detectable Amounts by Negative-Strand RNA Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(10):5059-5064.
Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) longer than 30 bp is a key activator of the innate immune response against viral infections. It is widely assumed that the generation of dsRNA during genome replication is a trait shared by all viruses. However, to our knowledge, no study exists in which the production of dsRNA by different viruses is systematically investigated. Here, we investigated the presence and localization of dsRNA in cells infected with a range of viruses, employing a dsRNA-specific antibody for immunofluorescence analysis. Our data revealed that, as predicted, significant amounts of dsRNA can be detected for viruses with a genome consisting of positive-strand RNA, dsRNA, or DNA. Surprisingly, however, no dsRNA signals were detected for negative-strand RNA viruses. Thus, dsRNA is indeed a general feature of most virus groups, but negative-strand RNA viruses appear to be an exception to that rule.
PMCID: PMC1472073  PMID: 16641297
7.  Suppression of RNAi by dsRNA-Degrading RNaseIII Enzymes of Viruses in Animals and Plants 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(3):e1004711.
Certain RNA and DNA viruses that infect plants, insects, fish or poikilothermic animals encode Class 1 RNaseIII endoribonuclease-like proteins. dsRNA-specific endoribonuclease activity of the RNaseIII of rock bream iridovirus infecting fish and Sweet potato chlorotic stunt crinivirus (SPCSV) infecting plants has been shown. Suppression of the host antiviral RNA interference (RNAi) pathway has been documented with the RNaseIII of SPCSV and Heliothis virescens ascovirus infecting insects. Suppression of RNAi by the viral RNaseIIIs in non-host organisms of different kingdoms is not known. Here we expressed PPR3, the RNaseIII of Pike-perch iridovirus, in the non-hosts Nicotiana benthamiana (plant) and Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode) and found that it cleaves double-stranded small interfering RNA (ds-siRNA) molecules that are pivotal in the host RNA interference (RNAi) pathway and thereby suppresses RNAi in non-host tissues. In N. benthamiana, PPR3 enhanced accumulation of Tobacco rattle tobravirus RNA1 replicon lacking the 16K RNAi suppressor. Furthermore, PPR3 suppressed single-stranded RNA (ssRNA)—mediated RNAi and rescued replication of Flock House virus RNA1 replicon lacking the B2 RNAi suppressor in C. elegans. Suppression of RNAi was debilitated with the catalytically compromised mutant PPR3-Ala. However, the RNaseIII (CSR3) produced by SPCSV, which cleaves ds-siRNA and counteracts antiviral RNAi in plants, failed to suppress ssRNA-mediated RNAi in C. elegans. In leaves of N. benthamiana, PPR3 suppressed RNAi induced by ssRNA and dsRNA and reversed silencing; CSR3, however, suppressed only RNAi induced by ssRNA and was unable to reverse silencing. Neither PPR3 nor CSR3 suppressed antisense-mediated RNAi in Drosophila melanogaster. These results show that the RNaseIII enzymes of RNA and DNA viruses suppress RNAi, which requires catalytic activities of RNaseIII. In contrast to other viral silencing suppression proteins, the RNaseIII enzymes are homologous in unrelated RNA and DNA viruses and can be detected in viral genomes using gene modeling and protein structure prediction programs.
Author Summary
RNA interference (RNAi) is a cellular mechanism activated by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Cellular dsRNA-specific RNaseIII enzymes (Dicer) recognize dsRNA and process it into double-stranded small interfering RNAs (ds-siRNAs) of 21–25 nucleotides (nt). siRNAs guide RNAi to degrade also single-stranded RNA homologous to the trigger. RNAi regulates gene expression, controls transposons, and represents an important antiviral defense mechanism. Therefore, viruses encode proteins dedicated to countering RNAi. In this study, the RNaseIII enzymes of a fish DNA virus (PPIV) and a plant RNA virus (SPCSV) were compared for suppression of RNAi in non-host organisms. The fish iridovirus RNaseIII suppressed RNAi in a plant and a nematode. It also enhanced accumulation of an RNAi suppressor deficient virus in plants, and suppressed antiviral RNAi and could rescue multiplication of an unrelated, RNAi suppressor-defective virus in nematodes. In contrast, the plant virus RNaseIII could suppress RNAi only in plants. Our results underscore that the active viral RNaseIII enzymes suppress RNAi. Their activity in suppression of RNAi seems to differ for the spectrum of unrelated organisms. Understanding of this novel mechanism of RNAi suppression may inform means of controlling the diseases and economic losses which the RNaseIII-containing viruses cause in animal and plant production.
PMCID: PMC4352025  PMID: 25747942
8.  RNA-based viral immunity initiated by the Dicer family of host immune receptors 
Immunological reviews  2009;227(1):176-188.
Suppression of viral infection by RNA in a nucleotide sequence homology-dependent manner was first reported in plants in early 1990s. Studies in the past 15 years have established a completely new RNA-based immune system against viruses that is mechanistically Riverside, CA, USA. related to RNA silencing or RNA interference (RNAi). This viral immunity begins with recognition of viral double-stranded or structured RNA by the Dicer nuclease family of host immune receptors. In fungi, plants and invertebrates, the viral RNA trigger is processed into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to direct specific silencing of the homologous viral genomic and/or messenger RNAs by an RNaseH-like Argonaute protein. Deep sequencing of virus-derived siRNAs indicates that the immunity against viruses with a positive-strand RNA genome is induced by Dicer recognition of dsRNA formed during the initiation of viral progeny (+)RNA synthesis. The RNA-based immune pathway in these organisms overlaps the canonical dsRNA-siRNA pathway of RNAi and may require amplification of viral siRNAs by host RNA-dependent RNA polymerase in plants and nematodes. Production of virus-derived small RNAs is undetectable in mammalian cells infected with RNA viruses. However, infection of mammals with several nucleus-replicating DNA viruses induces production of virus-derived microRNAs capable of silencing host and viral mRNAs as found for viral siRNAs. Remarkably, recent studies indicate that prokaryotes also produce virus-derived small RNAs known as CRISPR RNAs to guide antiviral defense in a manner that has yet to be defined. In this article, we review the recent progress on the identification and mechanism of the key components including viral sensors, viral triggers, effectors, and amplifiers, of the small RNA-directed viral immunity. We also highlight some of the many unresolved questions.
PMCID: PMC2676720  PMID: 19120484
viral; pattern recognition receptors; RNA silencing
9.  Template Role of Double-Stranded RNA in Tombusvirus Replication 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(10):5638-5651.
Replication of plus-strand RNA [(+)RNA] viruses of plants is a relatively simple process that involves complementary minus-strand RNA [(−)RNA] synthesis and subsequent (+)RNA synthesis. However, the actual replicative form of the (−)RNA template in the case of plant (+)RNA viruses is not yet established unambiguously. In this paper, using a cell-free replication assay supporting a full cycle of viral replication, we show that replication of Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) leads to the formation of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Using RNase digestion, DNAzyme, and RNA mobility shift assays, we demonstrate the absence of naked (−)RNA templates during replication. Time course experiments showed the rapid appearance of dsRNA earlier than the bulk production of new (+)RNAs, suggesting an active role for dsRNA in replication. Radioactive nucleotide chase experiments showed that the mechanism of TBSV replication involves the use of dsRNA templates in strand displacement reactions, where the newly synthesized plus strand replaces the original (+)RNA in the dsRNA. We propose that the use of dsRNA as a template for (+)RNA synthesis by the viral replicase is facilitated by recruited host DEAD box helicases and the viral p33 RNA chaperone protein. Altogether, this replication strategy allows TBSV to separate minus- and plus-strand syntheses in time and regulate asymmetrical RNA replication that leads to abundant (+)RNA progeny.
IMPORTANCE Positive-stranded RNA viruses of plants use their RNAs as the templates for replication. First, the minus strand is synthesized by the viral replicase complex (VRC), which then serves as a template for new plus-strand synthesis. To characterize the nature of the (−)RNA in the membrane-bound viral replicase, we performed complete RNA replication of Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) in yeast cell-free extracts and in plant extracts. The experiments demonstrated that the TBSV (−)RNA is present as a double-stranded RNA that serves as the template for TBSV replication. During the production of new plus strands, the viral replicase displaces the old plus strand in the dsRNA template, leading to asymmetrical RNA synthesis. The presented data are in agreement with the model that the dsRNA is present in nuclease-resistant membranous VRCs. This strategy likely allows TBSV to protect the replicating viral RNA from degradation as well as to evade the early detection of viral dsRNAs by the host surveillance system.
PMCID: PMC4019106  PMID: 24600009
10.  Discovery of Novel dsRNA Viral Sequences by In Silico Cloning and Implications for Viral Diversity, Host Range and Evolution 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e42147.
Genome sequence of viruses can contribute greatly to the study of viral evolution, diversity and the interaction between viruses and hosts. Traditional molecular cloning methods for obtaining RNA viral genomes are time-consuming and often difficult because many viruses occur in extremely low titers. DsRNA viruses in the families, Partitiviridae, Totiviridae, Endornaviridae, Chrysoviridae, and other related unclassified dsRNA viruses are generally associated with symptomless or persistent infections of their hosts. These characteristics indicate that samples or materials derived from eukaryotic organisms used to construct cDNA libraries and EST sequencing might carry these viruses, which were not easily detected by the researchers. Therefore, the EST databases may include numerous unknown viral sequences. In this study, we performed in silico cloning, a procedure for obtaining full or partial cDNA sequence of a gene by bioinformatics analysis, using known dsRNA viral sequences as queries to search against NCBI Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) database. From this analysis, we obtained 119 novel virus-like sequences related to members of the families, Endornaviridae, Chrysoviridae, Partitiviridae, and Totiviridae. Many of them were identified in cDNA libraries of eukaryotic lineages, which were not known to be hosts for these viruses. Furthermore, comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of these newly discovered virus-like sequences with known dsRNA viruses revealed that these dsRNA viruses may have co-evolved with respective host supergroups over a long evolutionary time while potential horizontal transmissions of viruses between different host supergroups also is possible. We also found that some of the plant partitiviruses may have originated from fungal viruses by horizontal transmissions. These findings extend our knowledge of the diversity and possible host range of dsRNA viruses and offer insight into the origin and evolution of relevant viruses with their hosts.
PMCID: PMC3407116  PMID: 22848734
11.  Influenza B Virus Ribonucleoprotein Is a Potent Activator of the Antiviral Kinase PKR 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(6):e1000473.
Activation of the latent kinase PKR is a potent innate defense reaction of vertebrate cells towards viral infections, which is triggered by recognition of viral double-stranded (ds) RNA and results in a translational shutdown. A major gap in our understanding of PKR's antiviral properties concerns the nature of the kinase activating molecules expressed by influenza and other viruses with a negative strand RNA genome, as these pathogens produce little or no detectable amounts of dsRNA. Here we systematically investigated PKR activation by influenza B virus and its impact on viral pathogenicity. Biochemical analysis revealed that PKR is activated by viral ribonucleoprotein (vRNP) complexes known to contain single-stranded RNA with a 5′-triphosphate group. Cell biological examination of recombinant viruses showed that the nucleo-cytoplasmic transport of vRNP late in infection is a strong trigger for PKR activation. In addition, our analysis provides a mechanistic explanation for the previously observed suppression of PKR activation by the influenza B virus NS1 protein, which we show here to rely on complex formation between PKR and NS1's dsRNA binding domain. The high significance of this interaction for pathogenicity was revealed by the finding that attenuated influenza viruses expressing dsRNA binding-deficient NS1 proteins were rescued for high replication and virulence in PKR-deficient cells and mice, respectively. Collectively, our study provides new insights into an important antiviral defense mechanism of vertebrates and leads us to suggest a new model of PKR activation by cytosolic vRNP complexes, a model that may also be applicable to other negative strand RNA viruses.
Author Summary
Upon viral infection of vertebrate cells, a vigorous innate defense response is initiated via the recognition of viral double-stranded (ds) RNA by the protein kinase PKR, resulting in the cessation of protein synthesis and subsequent blockage of viral propagation. The activation of PKR's potent antiviral response against influenza and other viruses with a negative strand RNA genome has presented a conundrum, however, as previous attempts failed to detect dsRNA in cells infected with these viruses. Here, we identify genomic RNA within the ribonucleoprotein (RNP) of influenza viruses as a non-canonical activator of the latent kinase PKR. Cell biological examinations revealed that the transfer of viral RNP from the nucleus to the cytoplasm provides a strong stimulus for PKR activation. Moreover, we provide insight into mechanisms of pathogenesis by showing PKR and the NS1 protein of influenza B virus forms a complex in infected cells, which inhibits PKR activation. This interaction seems to be crucial for viral pathogenicity, as a strong attenuation of NS1 mutant viruses was largely rescued in PKR-deficient mice and cells. Taken together, these findings suggest a new model for the induction and inhibition of PKR by influenza virus that may also apply to viruses with a similar genome structure.
PMCID: PMC2688073  PMID: 19521506
12.  The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells 
Biology Direct  2006;1:29.
Recent advances in genomics of viruses and cellular life forms have greatly stimulated interest in the origins and evolution of viruses and, for the first time, offer an opportunity for a data-driven exploration of the deepest roots of viruses. Here we briefly review the current views of virus evolution and propose a new, coherent scenario that appears to be best compatible with comparative-genomic data and is naturally linked to models of cellular evolution that, from independent considerations, seem to be the most parsimonious among the existing ones.
Several genes coding for key proteins involved in viral replication and morphogenesis as well as the major capsid protein of icosahedral virions are shared by many groups of RNA and DNA viruses but are missing in cellular life forms. On the basis of this key observation and the data on extensive genetic exchange between diverse viruses, we propose the concept of the ancient virus world. The virus world is construed as a distinct contingent of viral genes that continuously retained its identity throughout the entire history of life. Under this concept, the principal lineages of viruses and related selfish agents emerged from the primordial pool of primitive genetic elements, the ancestors of both cellular and viral genes. Thus, notwithstanding the numerous gene exchanges and acquisitions attributed to later stages of evolution, most, if not all, modern viruses and other selfish agents are inferred to descend from elements that belonged to the primordial genetic pool. In this pool, RNA viruses would evolve first, followed by retroid elements, and DNA viruses. The Virus World concept is predicated on a model of early evolution whereby emergence of substantial genetic diversity antedates the advent of full-fledged cells, allowing for extensive gene mixing at this early stage of evolution. We outline a scenario of the origin of the main classes of viruses in conjunction with a specific model of precellular evolution under which the primordial gene pool dwelled in a network of inorganic compartments. Somewhat paradoxically, under this scenario, we surmise that selfish genetic elements ancestral to viruses evolved prior to typical cells, to become intracellular parasites once bacteria and archaea arrived at the scene. Selection against excessively aggressive parasites that would kill off the host ensembles of genetic elements would lead to early evolution of temperate virus-like agents and primitive defense mechanisms, possibly, based on the RNA interference principle. The emergence of the eukaryotic cell is construed as the second melting pot of virus evolution from which the major groups of eukaryotic viruses originated as a result of extensive recombination of genes from various bacteriophages, archaeal viruses, plasmids, and the evolving eukaryotic genomes. Again, this vision is predicated on a specific model of the emergence of eukaryotic cell under which archaeo-bacterial symbiosis was the starting point of eukaryogenesis, a scenario that appears to be best compatible with the data.
The existence of several genes that are central to virus replication and structure, are shared by a broad variety of viruses but are missing from cellular genomes (virus hallmark genes) suggests the model of an ancient virus world, a flow of virus-specific genes that went uninterrupted from the precellular stage of life's evolution to this day. This concept is tightly linked to two key conjectures on evolution of cells: existence of a complex, precellular, compartmentalized but extensively mixing and recombining pool of genes, and origin of the eukaryotic cell by archaeo-bacterial fusion. The virus world concept and these models of major transitions in the evolution of cells provide complementary pieces of an emerging coherent picture of life's history.
W. Ford Doolittle, J. Peter Gogarten, and Arcady Mushegian.
PMCID: PMC1594570  PMID: 16984643
13.  An Accessory to the ‘Trinity’: SR-As Are Essential Pathogen Sensors of Extracellular dsRNA, Mediating Entry and Leading to Subsequent Type I IFN Responses 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000829.
Extracellular RNA is becoming increasingly recognized as a signaling molecule. Virally derived double stranded (ds)RNA released into the extracellular space during virus induced cell lysis acts as a powerful inducer of classical type I interferon (IFN) responses; however, the receptor that mediates this response has not been identified. Class A scavenger receptors (SR-As) are likely candidates due to their cell surface expression and ability to bind nucleic acids. In this study, we investigated a possible role for SR-As in mediating type I IFN responses induced by extracellular dsRNA in fibroblasts, a predominant producer of IFNβ. Fibroblasts were found to express functional SR-As, even SR-A species thought to be macrophage specific. SR-A specific competitive ligands significantly blocked extracellular dsRNA binding, entry and subsequent interferon stimulated gene (ISG) induction. Candidate SR-As were systematically investigated using RNAi and the most dramatic inhibition in responses was observed when all candidate SR-As were knocked down in unison. Partial inhibition of dsRNA induced antiviral responses was observed in vivo in SR-AI/II-/- mice compared with WT controls. The role of SR-As in mediating extracellular dsRNA entry and subsequent induced antiviral responses was observed in both murine and human fibroblasts. SR-As appear to function as ‘carriers’, facilitating dsRNA entry and delivery to the established dsRNA sensing receptors, specifically TLR3, RIGI and MDA-5. Identifying SR-As as gatekeepers of the cell, mediating innate antiviral responses, represents a novel function for this receptor family and provides insight into how cells recognize danger signals associated with lytic virus infections. Furthermore, the implications of a cell surface receptor capable of recognizing extracellular RNA may exceed beyond viral immunity to mediating other important innate immune functions.
Author Summary
Nearly all viruses produce dsRNA during their replication cycle. This molecule is not normally found in a healthy host cell and thus functions as a flag, alerting the host to a viral infection. Cells can die by lysis during virus infections, and the intracellular dsRNA is then released into the extracellular space. This dsRNA is stable in the extracellular milieu, and is able to function as a signaling molecule, detected by neighboring cells. This has been observed experimentally, as extracellular dsRNA has been used for years to trigger host antiviral responses. It has also been suggested that extracellular dsRNA plays a role in causing pathological symptoms in virus infected patients. Our data suggests that class A scavenger receptors (SR-As) function as cell surface receptors for dsRNA. SR-As bind extracellular, viral dsRNA and mediate its entry into the cell, where it delivers the dsRNA to other known intracellular dsRNA sensors, activating intracellular antiviral responses. These findings shed new light on how the host detects and responds to virus infection.
PMCID: PMC2847946  PMID: 20360967
14.  The 3' sequences required for incorporation of an engineered ssRNA into the Reovirus genome 
Virology Journal  2006;3:1.
Understanding how an organism replicates and assembles a multi-segmented genome with fidelity previously measured at 100% presents a model system for exploring questions involving genome assortment and RNA/protein interactions in general. The virus family Reoviridae, containing nine genera and more than 200 members, are unique in that they possess a segmented double-stranded (ds) RNA genome. Using reovirus as a model member of this family, we have developed the only functional reverse genetics system for a member of this family with ten or more genome segments.
Using this system, we have previously identified the flanking 5' sequences required by an engineered s2 ssRNA for efficient incorporation into the genome of reovirus. The minimum 5' sequence retains 96 nucleotides and contains a predicted sequence/structure element. Within these 96 nucleotides, we have identified three nucleotides A-U-U at positions 79–81 that are essential for the incorporation of in vitro generated ssRNAs into new reovirus progeny viral particles. The work presented here builds on these findings and presents the results of an analysis of the required 3' flanking sequences of the s2 ssRNA.
The minimum 3' sequence we localized retains 98 nucleotides of the wild type s2 ssRNA. These sequences do not interact with the 5' sequences and modifications of the 5' sequences does not result in a change in the sequences required at the 3' end of the engineered s2 ssRNA. Within the 3' sequence we discovered three regions that when mutated prevent the ssRNA from being replicated to dsRNA and subsequently incorporated into progeny virions. Using a series of substitutions we were able to obtain additional information about the sequences in these regions. We demonstrate that the individual nucleotides from, 98 to 84, 68 to 59, and 28 to 1, are required in addition to the total length of 98 nucleotides to direct an engineered reovirus ssRNA to be replicated to dsRNA and incorporated into a progeny virion. Extensive analysis using a number of RNA structure-predication software programs revealed three possible structures predicted to occur in all 10 reovirus ssRNAs but not predicted to contain conserved individual nucleotides that we could probe further by using individual nucleotide substitutions. The presence of a conserved structure would permit all ten ssRNAs to be identified and selected as a set, while unique nucleotides within the structure would direct the set to contain 10 unique members.
This study completes the characterization and mapping of the 5' and 3' sequences required for an engineered reovirus s2 ssRNA to be incorporated into an infectious progeny virus and establishes a firm foundation for additional investigations into the assortment and encapsidation mechanism of all 10 ssRNAs into the dsRNA genome of reovirus. As researchers build on this work and apply this system to additional reovirus genes and additional dsRNA viruses, a complete model for genome assortment and replication for these viruses will emerge.
PMCID: PMC1352349  PMID: 16390540
15.  Structure of a Protozoan Virus from the Human Genitourinary Parasite Trichomonas vaginalis 
mBio  2013;4(2):e00056-13.
The flagellated protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis is an obligate human genitourinary parasite and the most frequent cause of sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Most clinical isolates of T. vaginalis are persistently infected with one or more double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses from the genus Trichomonasvirus, family Totiviridae, which appear to influence not only protozoan biology but also human disease. Here we describe the three-dimensional structure of Trichomonas vaginalis virus 1 (TVV1) virions, as determined by electron cryomicroscopy and icosahedral image reconstruction. The structure reveals a T = 1 capsid comprising 120 subunits, 60 in each of two nonequivalent positions, designated A and B, as previously observed for fungal Totiviridae family members. The putative protomer is identified as an asymmetric AB dimer consistent with either decamer or tetramer assembly intermediates. The capsid surface is notable for raised plateaus around the icosahedral 5-fold axes, with canyons connecting the 2- and 3-fold axes. Capsid-spanning channels at the 5-fold axes are unusually wide and may facilitate release of the viral genome, promoting dsRNA-dependent immunoinflammatory responses, as recently shown upon the exposure of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells to either TVV-infected T. vaginalis or purified TVV1 virions. Despite extensive sequence divergence, conservative features of the capsid reveal a helix-rich fold probably derived from an ancestor shared with fungal Totiviridae family members. Also notable are mass spectrometry results assessing the virion proteins as a complement to structure determination, which suggest that translation of the TVV1 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase in fusion with its capsid protein involves −2, and not +1, ribosomal frameshifting, an uncommonly found mechanism to date.
Trichomonas vaginalis causes ~250 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease each year worldwide and is associated with serious complications, including premature birth and increased transmission of other pathogens, including HIV. It is an extracellular parasite that, in turn, commonly hosts infections with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses, trichomonasviruses, which appear to exacerbate disease through signaling of immunoinflammatory responses by human epithelial cells. Here we report the first three-dimensional structure of a trichomonasvirus, which is also the first such structure of any protozoan dsRNA virus; show that it has unusually wide channels at the capsid vertices, with potential for releasing the viral genome and promoting dsRNA-dependent responses by human cells; and provide evidence that it uses −2 ribosomal frameshifting, an uncommon mechanism, to translate its RNA polymerase in fusion with its capsid protein. These findings provide both mechanistic and translational insights concerning the role of trichomonasviruses in aggravating disease attributable to T. vaginalis.
PMCID: PMC3622925  PMID: 23549915
16.  RIG-I and MDA-5 Detection of Viral RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase Activity Restricts Positive-Strand RNA Virus Replication 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(9):e1003610.
Type I interferons (IFN) are important for antiviral responses. Melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 (MDA-5) and retinoic acid-induced gene I (RIG-I) proteins detect cytosolic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or 5′-triphosphate (5′-ppp) RNA and mediate IFN production. Cytosolic 5′-ppp RNA and dsRNA are generated during viral RNA replication and transcription by viral RNA replicases [RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRp)]. Here, we show that the Semliki Forest virus (SFV) RNA replicase can induce IFN-β independently of viral RNA replication and transcription. The SFV replicase converts host cell RNA into 5′-ppp dsRNA and induces IFN-β through the RIG-I and MDA-5 pathways. Inactivation of the SFV replicase RdRp activity prevents IFN-β induction. These IFN-inducing modified host cell RNAs are abundantly produced during both wild-type SFV and its non-pathogenic mutant infection. Furthermore, in contrast to the wild-type SFV replicase a non-pathogenic mutant replicase triggers increased IFN-β production, which leads to a shutdown of virus replication. These results suggest that host cells can restrict RNA virus replication by detecting the products of unspecific viral replicase RdRp activity.
Author Summary
Type I interferons (IFN) are critical for mounting effective antiviral responses by the host cells. For RNA viruses, it is believed that IFN is triggered exclusively by viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or RNA containing a 5′-triphosphate (5′-ppp) that is produced during viral genome replication or transcription driven by viral replicases. Here, we provide strong evidence suggesting that the viral replicase also generates 5′-ppp dsRNA using cellular RNA templates, which trigger IFN. This finding indicates that viral replicase is capable of activating the host innate immune response, deviating from the paradigm that viral nucleic acid replication or transcription must be initiated in the host cell to trigger IFN production. Using Semliki Forest virus (SFV) as a model, we show that the magnitude of innate immune response activation by the viral replicase plays a decisive role in establishing viral infection. We demonstrate that in contrast to the wild-type SFV replicase, a non-pathogenic mutant replicase triggers increased IFN production, which leads to a shutdown of virus replication. Consequently, excessive IFN induction by the viral replicase can be dangerous for an RNA virus. Thus, we delineate a novel mechanism by which an RNA virus triggers the host cell immune response leading to RNA virus replication shutdown.
PMCID: PMC3764220  PMID: 24039580
17.  Reovirus Forms Neo-Organelles for Progeny Particle Assembly within Reorganized Cell Membranes 
mBio  2014;5(1):e00931-13.
Most viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm of host cells form neo-organelles that serve as sites of viral genome replication and particle assembly. These highly specialized structures concentrate viral replication proteins and nucleic acids, prevent the activation of cell-intrinsic defenses, and coordinate the release of progeny particles. Despite the importance of inclusion complexes in viral replication, there are key gaps in the knowledge of how these organelles form and mediate their functions. Reoviruses are nonenveloped, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses that serve as tractable experimental models for studies of dsRNA virus replication and pathogenesis. Following reovirus entry into cells, replication occurs in large cytoplasmic structures termed inclusions that fill with progeny virions. Reovirus inclusions are nucleated by viral nonstructural proteins, which in turn recruit viral structural proteins for genome replication and particle assembly. Components of reovirus inclusions are poorly understood, but these structures are generally thought to be devoid of membranes. We used transmission electron microscopy and three-dimensional image reconstructions to visualize reovirus inclusions in infected cells. These studies revealed that reovirus inclusions form within a membranous network. Viral inclusions contain filled and empty viral particles and microtubules and appose mitochondria and rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER). Immunofluorescence confocal microscopy analysis demonstrated that markers of the ER and ER-Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC) codistribute with inclusions during infection, as does dsRNA. dsRNA colocalizes with the viral protein σNS and an ERGIC marker inside inclusions. These findings suggest that cell membranes within reovirus inclusions form a scaffold to coordinate viral replication and assembly.
Viruses alter the architecture of host cells to form an intracellular environment conducive to viral replication. This step in viral infection requires the concerted action of viral and host components and is potentially vulnerable to pharmacological intervention. Reoviruses form large cytoplasmic replication sites called inclusions, which have been described as membrane-free structures. Despite the importance of inclusions in the reovirus replication cycle, little is known about their formation and composition. We used light and electron microscopy to demonstrate that reovirus inclusions are membrane-containing structures and that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the ER-Golgi intermediate compartment interact closely with these viral organelles. These findings enhance our understanding of the cellular machinery usurped by viruses to form inclusion organelles and complete an infectious cycle. This information, in turn, may foster the development of antiviral drugs that impede this essential viral replication step.
PMCID: PMC3944815  PMID: 24549844
18.  A Unique Nodavirus with Novel Features: Mosinovirus Expresses Two Subgenomic RNAs, a Capsid Gene of Unknown Origin, and a Suppressor of the Antiviral RNA Interference Pathway 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(22):13447-13459.
Insects are a reservoir for many known and novel viruses. We discovered an unknown virus, tentatively named mosinovirus (MoNV), in mosquitoes from a tropical rainforest region in Côte d'Ivoire. The MoNV genome consists of two segments of positive-sense RNA of 2,972 nucleotides (nt) (RNA 1) and 1,801 nt (RNA 2). Its putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase shares 43% amino acid identity with its closest relative, that of the Pariacoto virus (family Nodaviridae). Unexpectedly, for the putative capsid protein, maximal pairwise identity of 16% to Lake Sinai virus 2, an unclassified virus with a nonsegmented RNA genome, was found. Moreover, MoNV virions are nonenveloped and about 50 nm in diameter, larger than any of the known nodaviruses. Mature MoNV virions contain capsid proteins of ∼56 kDa, which do not seem to be cleaved from a longer precursor. Northern blot analyses revealed that MoNV expresses two subgenomic RNAs of 580 nt (RNA 3) and 292 nt (RNA 4). RNA 4 encodes a viral suppressor of RNA interference (RNAi) that shares its mechanism with the B2 RNAi suppressor protein of other nodaviruses despite lacking recognizable similarity to these proteins. MoNV B2 binds long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and, accordingly, inhibits Dicer-2-mediated processing of dsRNA into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Phylogenetic analyses indicate that MoNV is a novel member of the family Nodaviridae that acquired its capsid gene via reassortment from an unknown, distantly related virus beyond the family level.
IMPORTANCE The identification of novel viruses provides important information about virus evolution and diversity. Here, we describe an unknown unique nodavirus in mosquitoes, named mosinovirus (MoNV). MoNV was classified as a nodavirus based on its genome organization and on phylogenetic analyses of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Notably, its capsid gene was acquired from an unknown virus with a distant relationship to nodaviruses. Another remarkable feature of MoNV is that, unlike other nodaviruses, it expresses two subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs). One of the sgRNAs expresses a protein that counteracts antiviral defense of its mosquito host, whereas the function of the other sgRNA remains unknown. Our results show that complete genome segments can be exchanged beyond the species level and suggest that insects harbor a large repertoire of exceptional viruses.
PMCID: PMC4249075  PMID: 25210176
19.  Widespread Endogenization of Genome Sequences of Non-Retroviral RNA Viruses into Plant Genomes 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(7):e1002146.
Non-retroviral RNA virus sequences (NRVSs) have been found in the chromosomes of vertebrates and fungi, but not plants. Here we report similarly endogenized NRVSs derived from plus-, negative-, and double-stranded RNA viruses in plant chromosomes. These sequences were found by searching public genomic sequence databases, and, importantly, most NRVSs were subsequently detected by direct molecular analyses of plant DNAs. The most widespread NRVSs were related to the coat protein (CP) genes of the family Partitiviridae which have bisegmented dsRNA genomes, and included plant- and fungus-infecting members. The CP of a novel fungal virus (Rosellinia necatrix partitivirus 2, RnPV2) had the greatest sequence similarity to Arabidopsis thaliana ILR2, which is thought to regulate the activities of the phytohormone auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). Furthermore, partitivirus CP-like sequences much more closely related to plant partitiviruses than to RnPV2 were identified in a wide range of plant species. In addition, the nucleocapsid protein genes of cytorhabdoviruses and varicosaviruses were found in species of over 9 plant families, including Brassicaceae and Solanaceae. A replicase-like sequence of a betaflexivirus was identified in the cucumber genome. The pattern of occurrence of NRVSs and the phylogenetic analyses of NRVSs and related viruses indicate that multiple independent integrations into many plant lineages may have occurred. For example, one of the NRVSs was retained in Ar. thaliana but not in Ar. lyrata or other related Camelina species, whereas another NRVS displayed the reverse pattern. Our study has shown that single- and double-stranded RNA viral sequences are widespread in plant genomes, and shows the potential of genome integrated NRVSs to contribute to resolve unclear phylogenetic relationships of plant species.
Author Summary
Eukaryotic genomes contain sequences that have originated from DNA viruses and reverse-transcribing viruses, i.e., retroviruses, pararetroviruses (DNA viruses), and transposons. However, the sequences of non-retroviral RNA viruses, which are unable to convert their genomes to DNA, were until recently considered not to be integrated into eukaryotic nuclear genomes. We present evidence for multiple independent events of horizontal gene transfer from a wide range of RNA viruses, including plus-sense, minus-sense, and double-stranded RNA viruses, into the genomes of distantly related plant lineages. Some non-retroviral integrated RNA viral sequences are conserved across genera within a plant family, whereas others are retained only in a limited number of species in a genus. Integration profiles of non-retroviral integrated RNA viral sequences demonstrate the potential of these sequences to serve as powerful molecular tools for deciphering phylogenetic relationships among related plants. Moreover, this study highlights plants co-opting non-retroviral RNA virus sequences, and provides insights into plant genome evolution and interplay between non-reverse-transcribing RNA viruses and their hosts.
PMCID: PMC3136472  PMID: 21779172
20.  Prevalence and Diversity of Viruses in the Entomopathogenic Fungus Beauveria bassiana 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(24):8523-8530.
Viruses have been discovered in numerous fungal species, but unlike most known animal or plant viruses, they are rarely associated with deleterious effects on their hosts. The knowledge about viruses among entomopathogenic fungi is very limited, although their existence is suspected because of the presence of virus-like double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in isolates of several species. Beauveria bassiana is one of the most-studied species of entomopathogenic fungi; it has a cosmopolitan distribution and is used as a biological control agent against invertebrates in agriculture. We analyzed a collection of 73 isolates obtained at different locations and from different habitats in Spain and Portugal, searching for dsRNA elements indicative of viral infections. The results revealed that the prevalence of viral infections is high; 54.8% of the isolates contained dsRNA elements with viral characteristics. The dsRNA electropherotypes of infected isolates indicated that virus diversity was high in the collection analyzed and that mixed virus infections occurred in fungal isolates. However, a hybridization experiment indicated that dsRNA bands that are similar in size do not always have similar sequences. Particular virus species or dsRNA profiles were not associated with locations or types of habitats, probably because of the ubiquity and efficient dispersion of this fungus as an airborne species. The sequence of one of the most common dsRNA elements corresponded to the 5.2-kbp genome of a previously undescribed member of the Totiviridae family, termed B. bassiana RNA virus 1 (BbRV1).
PMCID: PMC3502908  PMID: 23001673
21.  Two Ustilago maydis viral dsRNAs of different size code for the same product. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1983;11(9):2765-2778.
UmV is a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) virus of the corn fungus Ustilago maydis. There are three viral subtypes, P1, P4 and P6, which differ in the specificity of their secreted killer toxins. Each has three size classes of dsRNAs: H (heavy), M (medium), and L (light). We find that, unique among dsRNA viruses, two segments of different size code for the same product--the toxin resistance factor. The smaller dsRNA (L) is homologous to one end of the larger (M), and may have arisen by replication and packaging of a sub-genomic mRNA. We have also compared all the UmV dsRNAs with each other and with the dsRNAs of the similar yeast virus (ScV) by Northern gel and by 3' sequence analysis. Like those of ScV, many of the UmV dsRNAs have one 3' terminus with the sequence UUUUUCAOH or UUUUUCGOH. The H and L dsRNAs of similar size in different viral subtypes are generally related in sequence. The UmV H dsRNAs of different size are not detectably related in sequence.
PMCID: PMC325922  PMID: 6856475
22.  A Novel Mycovirus That Is Related to the Human Pathogen Hepatitis E Virus and Rubi-Like Viruses ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2008;83(4):1981-1991.
Previously, we reported that three double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) segments, designated L-, M-, and S-dsRNAs, were detected in Sclerotinia sclerotiorum strain Ep-1PN. Of these, the M-dsRNA segment was derived from the genomic RNA of a potexvirus-like positive-strand RNA virus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum debilitation-associated RNA virus. Here, we present the complete nucleotide sequence of the L-dsRNA, which is 6,043 nucleotides in length, excluding the poly(A) tail. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of a single open reading frame (nucleotide positions 42 to 5936) that encodes a protein with significant similarity to the replicases of the “alphavirus-like” supergroup of positive-strand RNA viruses. A sequence comparison of the L-dsRNA-encoded putative replicase protein containing conserved methyltransferase, helicase, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase motifs showed that it has significant sequence similarity to the replicase of Hepatitis E virus, a virus infecting humans. Furthermore, we present convincing evidence that the virus-like L-dsRNA could replicate independently with only a slight impact on growth and virulence of its host. Our results suggest that the L-dsRNA from strain Ep-1PN is derived from the genomic RNA of a positive-strand RNA virus, which we named Sclerotinia sclerotiorum RNA virus L (SsRV-L). As far as we know, this is the first report of a positive-strand RNA mycovirus that is related to a human virus. Phylogenetic and sequence analyses of the conserved motifs of the RNA replicase of SsRV-L showed that it clustered with the rubi-like viruses and that it is related to the plant clostero-, beny- and tobamoviruses and to the insect omegatetraviruses. Considering the fact that these related alphavirus-like positive-strand RNA viruses infect a wide variety of organisms, these findings suggest that the ancestral positive-strand RNA viruses might be of ancient origin and/or they might have radiated horizontally among vertebrates, insects, plants, and fungi.
PMCID: PMC2643757  PMID: 19073734
23.  Movement Protein Pns6 of Rice dwarf phytoreovirus Has Both ATPase and RNA Binding Activities 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24986.
Cell-to-cell movement is essential for plant viruses to systemically infect host plants. Plant viruses encode movement proteins (MP) to facilitate such movement. Unlike the well-characterized MPs of DNA viruses and single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses, knowledge of the functional mechanisms of MPs encoded by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses is very limited. In particular, many studied MPs of DNA and ssRNA viruses bind non-specifically ssRNAs, leading to models in which ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) move from cell to cell. Thus, it will be of special interest to determine whether MPs of dsRNA viruses interact with genomic dsRNAs or their derivative sRNAs. To this end, we studied the biochemical functions of MP Pns6 of Rice dwarf phytoreovirus (RDV), a member of Phytoreovirus that contains a 12-segmented dsRNA genome. We report here that Pns6 binds both dsRNAs and ssRNAs. Intriguingly, Pns6 exhibits non-sequence specificity for dsRNA but shows preference for ssRNA sequences derived from the conserved genomic 5′- and 3′- terminal consensus sequences of RDV. Furthermore, Pns6 exhibits magnesium-dependent ATPase activities. Mutagenesis identified the RNA binding and ATPase activity sites of Pns6 at the N- and C-termini, respectively. Our results uncovered the novel property of a viral MP in differentially recognizing dsRNA and ssRNA and establish a biochemical basis to enable further studies on the mechanisms of dsRNA viral MP functions.
PMCID: PMC3176798  PMID: 21949821
24.  Genome Sequence, Full-Length Infectious cDNA Clone, and Mapping of Viral Double-Stranded RNA Accumulation Determinant of Hypovirus CHV1-EP721▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;81(4):1813-1820.
Cryphonectria parasitica strain EP721 is infected with a strain of hypovirus CHV1, CHV1-EP721, and exhibits typical hypovirulence-associated traits such as reduced pigmentation and reduced asexual sporulation. However, the accumulation of the viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in this hypovirus-infected C. parasitica strain is atypically low. We now report the complete nucleotide sequence and construction of a full-length infectious cDNA clone for hypovirus CHV1-EP721. The genome sequence of CHV1-EP721 was determined to be 12,724 bp in length and to share extensive homology with two other hypovirus strains, CHV1-Euro7 and CHV1-EP713, with an average of 99% and 90% identities at the nucleotide level and 99% and 92% identities at the amino acid level, respectively. CHV1-EP721 was successfully introduced into virus-free fungal host strain EP721(-v) by transfection with transcripts derived from a full-length viral cDNA. The transfected strain had a phenotype indistinguishable from that of EP721, and the accumulation of CHV1-EP721 dsRNA in the transfectant was lower than those transfected by CHV1-Euro7 and CHV1-EP713 transcripts. Through the construction of chimeric viruses by domain swapping using infectious cDNA clones of CHV1-EP721, CHV1-EP713, and CHV1-Euro7 hypoviruses, the determinant for the low level of viral dsRNA accumulation in CHV1-EP721 was mapped to the second of two CHV1-EP721 open reading frames (ORFs), ORF B. Further refined swapping of domains within ORF B identified a 2.5-kb coding region between p48 and the polymerase domain of CHV1-EP721 as being responsible for the low viral dsRNA accumulation. Evidence is also provided that low rates of hypovirus transmission through conidial spores correlates with low viral dsRNA accumulation.
PMCID: PMC1797589  PMID: 17135313
25.  Dissection of Double-Stranded RNA Binding Protein B2 from Betanodavirus▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(11):5449-5459.
Betanodaviruses are small RNA viruses that infect teleost fish and pose a considerable threat to marine aquaculture production. These viruses possess a small protein, termed B2, which binds to and protects double-stranded RNA. This prevents cleavage of virus-derived double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) by Dicer and subsequent production of small interfering RNA (siRNA), which would otherwise induce an RNA-silencing response against the virus. In this work, we have performed charged-to-alanine scanning mutagenesis of the B2 protein in order to identify residues required for dsRNA binding and protection. While the majority of the 19 mutated B2 residues were required for maximal dsRNA binding and protection in vitro, residues R53 and R60 were essential for both activities. Subsequent experiments in fish cells confirmed these findings by showing that mutations in these residues abolished accumulation of both the RNA1 and RNA2 components of the viral genome, in addition to preventing any significant induction of the host interferon gene, Mx. Moreover, an obvious positive correlation was found between dsRNA binding and protection in vitro and RNA1, RNA2, and Mx accumulation in fish cells, further validating the importance of the selected amino acid residues. The same trend was also demonstrated using an RNA silencing system in HeLa cells, with residues R53 and R60 being essential for suppression of RNA silencing. Importantly, we found that siRNA-mediated knockdown of Dicer dramatically enhanced the accumulation of a B2 mutant. In addition, we found that B2 is able to induce apoptosis in fish cells but that this was not the result of dsRNA binding.
PMCID: PMC1900263  PMID: 17376906

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