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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Publications

Flores, R.; Delgado, S.; Gas, M.-E.; Carbonell, A.; Molina, D.; Gago, S.; De la Peña, M.; Viroids: the minimal non-coding RNAs with autonomous replication FEBS Lett. 567, 42-48, (2004) DOI: 10.1016/j.febslet.2004.03.118

Viroids are small (246–401 nucleotides), non‐coding, circular RNAs able to replicate autonomously in certain plants. Viroids are classified into the families Pospiviroidae and Avsunviroidae , whose members replicate in the nucleus and chloroplast, respectively. Replication occurs by an RNA‐based rolling‐circle mechanism in three steps: (1) synthesis of longer‐than‐unit strands catalyzed by host DNA‐dependent RNA polymerases forced to transcribe RNA templates, (2) processing to unit‐length, which in family Avsunviroidae is mediated by hammerhead ribozymes, and (3) circularization either through an RNA ligase or autocatalytically. Disease induction might result from the accumulation of viroid‐specific small interfering RNAs that, via RNA silencing, could interfere with normal developmental pathways.
Publications

Carbonell, A.; De la Peña, M.; Flores, R.; Gago, S.; Effects of the trinucleotide preceding the self-cleavage site on eggplant latent viroid hammerheads: differences in co- and post-transcriptional self-cleavage may explain the lack of trinucleotide AUC in most natural hammerheads Nucleic Acids Res. 34, 5613-5622, (2006) DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkl717

Eggplant latent viroid (ELVd) can form stable hammerhead structures in its (+) and (−) strands. These ribozymes have the longest helices I reported in natural hammerheads, with that of the ELVd (+) hammerhead being particularly stable (5/7 bp are G-C). Moreover, the trinucleotide preceding the self-cleavage site of this hammerhead is AUA, which together with GUA also found in some natural hammerheads, deviate from the GUC present in most natural hammerheads including the ELVd (−) hammerhead. When the AUA trinucleotide preceding the self-cleavage site of the ELVd (+) hammerhead was substituted by GUA and GUC, as well as by AUC (essentially absent in natural hammerheads), the values of the self-cleavage rate constants at low magnesium of the purified hammerheads were: ELVd-(+)-AUC≈ELVd-(+)-GUC>ELVd-(+)-GUA> ELVd-(+)-AUA. However, the ELVd-(+)-AUC hammerhead was the catalytically less efficient during in vitro transcription, most likely because of the transient adoption of catalytically-inactive metastable structures. These results suggest that natural hammerheads have been evolutionary selected to function co-transcriptionally, and provide a model explaining the lack of trinucleotide AUC preceding the self-cleavage site of most natural hammerheads. Comparisons with other natural hammerheads showed that the ELVd-(+)-GUC and ELVd-(+)-AUC hammerheads are the catalytically most active in a post-transcriptional context with low magnesium.
Books and chapters

Flores, R.; Carbonell, A.; De la Peña, M.; Gago, S.; RNAs Autocatalíticos: Ribozimas de Cabeza de Martillo 407-425, (2007)

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Publications

Carbonell, A.; Martínez de Alba, A.-E.; Flores, R.; Gago, S.; Double-stranded RNA interferes in a sequence-specific manner with the infection of representative members of the two viroid families Virology 371, 44-53, (2008) DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2007.09.031

Infection by viroids, non-protein-coding circular RNAs, occurs with the accumulation of 21–24 nt viroid-derived small RNAs (vd-sRNAs) with characteristic properties of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) associated to RNA silencing. The vd-sRNAs most likely derive from dicer-like (DCL) enzymes acting on viroid-specific dsRNA, the key elicitor of RNA silencing, or on the highly structured genomic RNA. Previously, viral dsRNAs delivered mechanically or agroinoculated have been shown to interfere with virus infection in a sequence-specific manner. Here, we report similar results with members of the two families of nuclear- and chloroplast-replicating viroids. Moreover, homologous vd-sRNAs co-delivered mechanically also interfered with one of the viroids examined. The interference was sequence-specific, temperature-dependent and, in some cases, also dependent on the dose of the co-inoculated dsRNA or vd-sRNAs. The sequence-specific nature of these effects suggests the involvement of the RNA induced silencing complex (RISC), which provides sequence specificity to RNA silencing machinery. Therefore, viroid titer in natural infections might be regulated by the concerted action of DCL and RISC. Viroids could have evolved their secondary structure as a compromise between resistance to DCL and RISC, which act preferentially against RNAs with compact and relaxed secondary structures, respectively. In addition, compartmentation, association with proteins or active replication might also help viroids to elude their host RNA silencing machinery.
Books and chapters

Flores, R.; Carbonell, A.; Gago, S.; Martínez de Alba, A.-E.; Delgado, S.; Rodio, M.-E.; Di Serio, F.; Viroid-host interactions: A molecular dialogue between two uneven partners Biology of Plant-Microbe Interactions 6, 1-9, (2008)

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Publications

Flores, R.; Gas, M.-E.; Molina-Serrano, D.; Nohales, M.-?.; Carbonell, A.; Gago, S.; De la Peña, M.; Daròs, J.-A.; Viroid Replication: Rolling-Circles, Enzymes and Ribozymes Viruses 1, 317-334, (2009) DOI: 10.3390/v1020317

Viroids, due to their small size and lack of protein-coding capacity, must rely essentially on their hosts for replication. Intriguingly, viroids have evolved the ability to replicate in two cellular organella, the nucleus (family Pospiviroidae) and the chloroplast (family Avsunviroidae). Viroid replication proceeds through an RNA-based rolling-circle mechanism with three steps that, with some variations, operate in both polarity strands: i) synthesis of longer-than-unit strands catalyzed by either the nuclear RNA polymerase II or a nuclear-encoded chloroplastic RNA polymerase, in both instances redirected to transcribe RNA templates, ii) cleavage to unit-length, which in the family Avsunviroidae is mediated by hammerhead ribozymes embedded in both polarity strands, while in the family Pospiviroidae the oligomeric RNAs provide the proper conformation but not the catalytic activity, and iii) circularization. The host RNA polymerases, most likely assisted by additional host proteins, start transcription from specific sites, thus implying the existence of viroid promoters. Cleavage and ligation in the family Pospiviroidae is probably catalyzed by an RNase III-like enzyme and an RNA ligase able to circularize the resulting 5’ and 3’ termini. Whether a chloroplastic RNA ligase mediates circularization in the family Avsunviroidae, or this reaction is autocatalytic, remains an open issue.
Publications

Renovell, ?.; Gago, S.; Ruiz-Ruiz, S.; Velázquez, K.; Navarro, L.; Moreno, P.; Vives, M. C.; Guerri, J.; Mapping the subgenomic RNA promoter of the Citrus leaf blotch virus coat protein gene by Agrobacterium-mediated inoculation Virology 406, 360-369, (2010) DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2010.07.034

Citrus leaf blotch virus has a single-stranded positive-sense genomic RNA (gRNA) of 8747 nt organized in three open reading frames (ORFs). The ORF1, encoding a polyprotein involved in replication, is translated directly from the gRNA, whereas ORFs encoding the movement (MP) and coat (CP) proteins are expressed via 3' coterminal subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs). We characterized the minimal promoter region critical for the CP-sgRNA expression in infected cells by deletion analyses using Agrobacterium-mediated infection of Nicotiana benthamiana plants. The minimal CP-sgRNA promoter was mapped between nucleotides −67 and + 50 nt around the transcription start site. Surprisingly, larger deletions in the region between the CP-sgRNA transcription start site and the CP translation initiation codon resulted in increased CP-sgRNA accumulation, suggesting that this sequence could modulate the CP-sgRNA transcription. Site-specific mutational analysis of the transcription start site revealed that the + 1 guanylate and the + 2 adenylate are important for CP-sgRNA synthesis.
Publications

Carbonell, A.; Flores, R.; Gago, S.; Trans-cleaving hammerhead ribozymes with tertiary stabilizing motifs: in vitro and in vivo activity against a structured viroid RNA Nucleic Acids Res. 39, 2432-2444, (2011) DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkq1051

Trans -cleaving hammerheads with discontinuous or extended stem I and with tertiary stabilizing motifs (TSMs) have been tested previously against short RNA substrates in vitro at low Mg 2+ concentration. However, the potential of these ribozymes for targeting longer and structured RNAs in vitro and in vivo has not been examined. Here, we report the in vitro cleavage of short RNAs and of a 464-nt highly structured RNA from potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) by hammerheads with discontinuous and extended formats at submillimolar Mg 2+ . Under these conditions, hammerheads derived from eggplant latent viroid and peach latent mosaic viroid (PLMVd) with discontinuous and extended formats, respectively, where the most active. Furthermore, a PLMVd-derived hammerhead with natural TSMs showed activity in vivo against the same long substrate and interfered with systemic PSTVd infection, thus reinforcing the idea that this class of ribozymes has potential to control pathogenic RNA replicons.
Books and chapters

Vaira, A. M.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Garcia, M. L.; Guerri, J.; Hammond, J.; Milne, R. G.; Moreno, P.; Morikawa, T.; Natsuaki, T.; Navarro, J. A.; Pallas, V.; Torok, V.; Verbeek, M.; Vetten, H. J.; Family - Ophioviridae (King, A. M. Q., et al., eds.). 743-748, (2012) DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-384684-6.00060-4

This chapter focuses on Ophioviridae family whose sole member genus is Ophiovirus. The member species of the genus include Citrus psorosis virus (CPsV), Freesia sneak virus(FreSV), Lettuce ring necrosis virus (LRNV), and Mirafiori lettuce big-vein virus (MiLBVV).The single stranded negative/possibly ambisense RNA genome is divided into 3–4 segments, each of which is encapsidated in a single coat protein (43–50 kDa) forming filamentous virions of about 3 nm in diameter, in shape of kinked or probably internally coiled circles of at least two different contour lengths. Ophioviruses can be mechanically transmitted to a limited range of test plants, inducing local lesions and systemic mottle. The natural hosts of CPsV, ranunculus white mottle virus (RWMV), MiLBVV, and LRNV are dicotyledonous plants of widely differing taxonomy. CPsV has a wide geographical distribution in citrus in the Americas, in the Mediterranean and in New Zealand. FreSV has been reported in two species of the family Ranunculacae from Northern Italy, and in lettuce in France and Germany. Tulip mild mottle mosaic virus (TMMMV) has been reported in tulips in Japan. LRNV is closely associated with lettuce ring necrosis disease in The Netherlands, Belgium, and France, and FreSV has been reported in Europe, Africa, North America and New Zealand.
Books and chapters

Carbonell, A.; Flores, R.; Gago, S.; Hammerhead Ribozymes Against Virus and Viroid RNAs (Erdmann, V. A. & Barciszewski, J., eds.). RNA Technologies 411-427, (2012) ISBN: 978-3-642-27426-8 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-27426-8_16

The hammerhead ribozyme, a small catalytic motif that promotes self-cleavage of the RNAs in which it is found naturally embedded, can be manipulated to recognize and cleave specifically in trans other RNAs in the presence of Mg2+. To be really effective, hammerheads need to operate at the low concentration of Mg2+ existing in vivo. Evidence has been gathered along the last years showing that tertiary stabilizing motifs (TSMs), particularly interactions between peripheral loops, are critical for the catalytic activity of hammerheads at physiological levels of Mg2+. These TSMs, in two alternative formats, have been incorporated into a new generation of more efficient trans-cleaving hammerheads, some of which are active in vitro and in planta when targeted against the highly structured RNA of a viroid (a small plant pathogen). This strategy has potential to confer protection against other RNA replicons, like RNA viruses infecting plants and animals.
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