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Serra, P.; BANI HASHEMIAN, S. M.; PENSABENE-BELLAVIA, G.; Gago, S.; DURAN-VILA, N.; An artificial chimeric derivative of Citrus viroid V involves the terminal left domain in pathogenicity Mol. Plant Pathol. 10, 515-522, (2009) DOI: 10.1111/j.1364-3703.2009.00553.x

The recently described Citrus viroid V (CVd‐V) induces, in Etrog citron, mild stunting and very small necrotic lesions and cracks, sometimes filled with gum. As Etrog citron plants co‐infected with Citrus dwarfing viroid (CDVd) and CVd‐V show synergistic interactions, these host–viroid combinations provide a convenient model to identify the pathogenicity determinant(s). The biological effects of replacing limited portions of the rod‐like structure of CVd‐V with the corresponding portions of CDVd are reported. Chimeric constructs were synthesized using a novel polymerase chain reaction‐based approach, much more flexible than those based on restriction enzymes used in previous studies. Of the seven chimeras (Ch) tested, only one (Ch5) proved to be infectious. Plants infected with Ch5 showed no symptoms and, although this novel chimera was able to replicate to relatively high titres in singly infected plants, it was rapidly displaced by either CVd‐V or CDVd in doubly infected plants. The results demonstrate that direct interaction(s) between structural elements in the viroid RNA (in this case, the terminal left domain) and as yet unidentified host factors play an important role in modulating viroid pathogenicity. This is the first pathogenic determinant mapped in species of the genus Apscaviroid.

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.
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