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20S RNA narnavirus defies the antiviral activity of SKI1/XRN1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Esteban R., Vega L., Fujimura T.

20S RNA virus is a persistent positive strand RNA virus found in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We previously observed that the virus generated in vivo from a launching vector possessed the correct RNA termini without extra sequences. Here we present evidence that the SKI1/XRN1 5'-exonuclease plays a major role in the elimination of the non-viral upstream sequences from the primary transcripts. The virus, once generated, however, is fairly unaffected by overexpression or deletion of SKI1/XRN1. By contrast, the copy number of the L-A double-stranded RNA virus in the same host is greatly increased by the deletion of SKI1/XRN1, and overexpression of the gene cured L-A virus from the cells at a high frequency. 20S RNA virus, unlike L-A virus, has a strong secondary structure at its 5'-end: the first four nucleotides are G, and they are buried at the bottom of a long stem structure, features known to inhibit the SKI1/XRN1 5'-exonuclease progression. Mutations that weakened the 5'-stem structure made 20S RNA virus vulnerable to SKI1/XRN1. These results, together with the data on L-A virus, indicate a strong anti-RNA virus activity of SKI1/XRN1. Given that 20S RNA virus resides and replicates in the cytoplasm without a protective capsid, our results suggest that the strong secondary structure at the 5'-end is crucial for the 20S RNA virus to evade the host SKI1/XRN1 defense.

J. Biol. Chem. 283:25812-25820(2008) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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