Leishmania RNA virus 1 produces a short viral RNA transcript corresponding to the 5' end of positive-sense single-stranded RNAs both in virally infected cells and in in vitro polymerase assays. We hypothesized that this short transcript was generated via cleavage of full-length positive-sense single- stranded RNA. A putative cleavage site was mapped by primer extension analysis to nucleotide 320 of the viral genome. To address the hypothesis that the short transcript is generated via cleavage at this site, two substrate RNAs that possessed viral/sequence encompassing the putative cleavage site were created. When incubated with sucrose-purified viral particles, these substrate RNAs were site-specifically cleaved. The cleavage site of the in vitro-processed RNAs also mapped to viral nucleotide 320. The short-transcript-generating activity could be specifically abolished by proteinase K treatment of sucrose-purified viral particles and high concentrations of EGTA [ethylene glycol-bis(β-aminoethyl ether)-N,N,N',N'- tetraacetic acid], suggesting that the activity requires a proteinaceous factor and possibly intact viral particles. The cleavage activity is directly associated with short-transcript-generating activity, since only vital particle preparations which were capable of generating the short transcript in polymerase assays were also active in the cleavage assay. Furthermore, the short-transcript-generating activity is independent of the viral polymerase's transcriptase and replicase activities. We present a working model whereby cleavage of Leishmaniavirus RNA transcripts functions in the maintenance of a low-level persistent infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science