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Publikation

Serra, P.; Carbonell, A.; Navarro, B.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Li, S.; Di Serio, F.; Flores, R. Symptomatic plant viroid infections in phytopathogenic fungi: A request for a critical reassessment Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 117, 10126-10128, (2020) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1922249117

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Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Ballesteros, C.; Sentandreu, V.; Delgado, S.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Flores, R.; Sanjuán, R. Different rates of spontaneous mutation of chloroplastic and nuclear viroids as determined by high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing PLOS Pathog 13, e1006547, (2017) DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006547

Mutation rates vary by orders of magnitude across biological systems, being higher for simpler genomes. The simplest known genomes correspond to viroids, subviral plant replicons constituted by circular non-coding RNAs of few hundred bases. Previous work has revealed an extremely high mutation rate for chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid, a chloroplast-replicating viroid. However, whether this is a general feature of viroids remains unclear. Here, we have used high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing to determine the mutation rate in a common host (eggplant) of two viroids, each representative of one family: the chloroplastic eggplant latent viroid (ELVd, Avsunviroidae) and the nuclear potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd, Pospiviroidae). This revealed higher mutation frequencies in ELVd than in PSTVd, as well as marked differences in the types of mutations produced. Rates of spontaneous mutation, quantified in vivo using the lethal mutation method, ranged from 1/1000 to 1/800 for ELVd and from 1/7000 to 1/3800 for PSTVd depending on sequencing run. These results suggest that extremely high mutability is a common feature of chloroplastic viroids, whereas the mutation rates of PSTVd and potentially other nuclear viroids appear significantly lower and closer to those of some RNA viruses.
Bücher und Buchkapitel

Flores, R.; Gago-Zachert, S.; De la Peña, M.; Navarro, B. Chrysanthemum Chlorotic Mottle Viroid (Ed. A. Hadidi, et al.). 331-338, (2017) ISBN: eBook ISBN: 9780128017029; Hardcover ISBN: 9780128014981. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801498-1.00031-0

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Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Mileti, G.; Minoia, S.; Flores, R.; Delgado, S. The transcription initiation sites of eggplant latent viroid strands map within distinct motifs in their in vivo RNA conformations RNA Biology 13, 83-97, (2016) DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2015.1119365

Eggplant latent viroid (ELVd), like other members of family Avsunviroidae, replicates in plastids through a symmetric rolling-circle mechanism in which elongation of RNA strands is most likely catalyzed by a nuclear-encoded polymerase (NEP) translocated to plastids. Here we have addressed where NEP initiates transcription of viroid strands. Because this step is presumably directed by sequence/structural motifs, we have previously determined the conformation of the monomeric linear (+) and (−) RNAs of ELVd resulting from hammerhead-mediated self-cleavage. In silico predictions with 3 softwares led to similar bifurcated conformations for both ELVd strands. In vitro examination by non-denaturing PAGE showed that they migrate as prominent single bands, with the ELVd (+) RNA displaying a more compact conformation as revealed by its faster electrophoretic mobility. In vitro SHAPE analysis corroborated the ELVd conformations derived from thermodynamics-based predictions in silico. Moreover, sequence analysis of 94 full-length natural ELVd variants disclosed co-variations, and mutations converting canonical into wobble pairs or vice versa, which confirmed in vivo most of the stems predicted in silico and in vitro, and additionally helped to introduce minor structural refinements. Therefore, results from the 3 experimental approaches were essentially consistent among themselves. Application to RNA preparations from ELVd-infected tissue of RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends, combined with pretreatments to modify the 5′ ends of viroid strands, mapped the transcription initiation sites of ELVd (+) and (−) strands in vivo at different sequence/structural motifs, in contrast with the situation previously observed in 2 other members of the family Avsunviroidae.
Publikation

Flores, R.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Serra, P.; Sanjuán, R.; Elena, S. F. Viroids: Survivors from the RNA World? Annual Rev Microbiol 68, 395 - 414, (2014) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-micro-091313-103416

Because RNA can be a carrier of genetic information and a biocatalyst, there is a consensus that it emerged before DNA and proteins, which eventually assumed these roles and relegated RNA to intermediate functions. If such a scenario—the so-called RNA world—existed, we might hope to find its relics in our present world. The properties of viroids that make them candidates for being survivors of the RNA world include those expected for primitive RNA replicons: (a) small size imposed by error-prone replication, (b) high G+ C content to increase replication fidelity, (c) circular structure for assuring complete replication without genomic tags, (d) structural periodicity for modular assembly into enlarged genomes, (e) lack of protein-coding ability consistent with a ribosome-free habitat, and (f) replication mediated in some by ribozymes, the fingerprint of the RNA world. With the advent of DNA and proteins, those protoviroids lost some abilities and became the plant parasites we now know.
Bücher und Buchkapitel

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.
Publikation

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 Research 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.
Publikation

Flores, R.; Grubb, C.D.; Elleuch, A.; Nohales, M.A; Delgado, S.; Gago, S. Rolling-circle replication of viroids, viroid-like satellite RNAs and hepatitis delta virus RNA Biol 8(2), 200-206, (2011) DOI: 10.4161/rna.8.2.14238

Viroids and viroid-like satellite RNAs from plants, and the human hepatitis delta virus (HDV) RNA share some properties that include small size, circularity and replication through a rolling-circle mechanism. Replication occurs in different cell compartments (nucleus, chloroplast and membrane-associated cytoplasmatic vesicles) and has three steps: RNA polymerization, cleavage and ligation. The first step generates oligomeric RNAs that result from the reiterative transcription of the circular templates of one or both polarities, and is catalyzed by either the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of the helper virus on which viroid-like satellite RNAs are functionally dependent, or by host DNA-dependent RNA polymerases that, remarkably, viroids and HDV redirect to transcribe RNA templates. Cleavage is mediated by host enzymes in certain viroids and viroid-like satellite RNAs, while in others and in HDV is mediated by cis-acting ribozymes of three classes. Ligation appears to be catalyzed mainly by host enzymes. Replication most likely also involves many other non-catalytic proteins of host origin and, in HDV, the single virus-encoded protein.
Publikation

Gago, S.; Elena, S.F.; Flores, R.; Sanjuán, R. Extremely high mutation rate of a hammerhead viroid Science 322, 1308, (2009) DOI: 10.1126/science.1169202

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Publikation

Dufour, D.; de la Peña, M.; Gago, S.; Flores, R.; Gallego, J. Structure-function analyses of the ribozyme of chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid: a loop-loop interaction motif conserved in most natural hammerheads Nucleic Acids Research 37, 368-381, (2009) DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkn918

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