Following natural human or experimental murine infections and in cell culture, coxsackievirus B (CVB) RNA can persist for weeks in the absence of a cytopathic effect, yet viral RNA remains detectable. Our earlier studies demonstrated that this persistence produced viral RNA with up to 49 nucleotide deletions at the genomic 5' terminus which partially degraded the cloverleaf (or domain I), an RNA structure required for efficient viral replication. A cis-acting replication element (CRE) in the 2C proteincoding region [CRE(2C)] templates the addition of two uridine residues to the virus genome-encoded RNA replication primer VPg prior to positive-strand synthesis. Because our previous work also demonstrated that the genomes of CVB with a 5'-terminal deletion (CVB-TD) have VPg covalently linked, even though they rarely terminate in the canonical UU donated by CRE(2C)- mediated uridylylation of VPg, we hypothesized that a functional (uridylylating) CRE(2C) would be unnecessary for CVB-TD replication. Using the same 16 mutations in the CVB3 CRE(2C) structure that were considered lethal for this virus by others, we demonstrate here both in infected cell cultures and in mice that wild-type (wt) and CVB3-TD strains carrying these mutations with a nonuridylylating CRE(2C) are viable. While the wt genome with the mutated CRE(2C) displays suppressed replication levels similar to those observed in a CVB3-TD strain, mutation of the CRE(2C) function in a CVB3-TD strain does not further decrease replication. Finally, we show that replication of the parental CVB3 strain containing the mutated CRE(2C) drives the de novo generation of genomic deletions at the 5' terminus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science