Inducible yeast system for viral RNA recombination reveals requirement for an RNA replication signal on both parental RNAs

Hernan Garcia-Ruiz, Paul Ahlquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


To facilitate RNA recombination studies, we tested whether Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which supports brome mosaic virus (BMV) replication, also supports BMV RNA recombination. Yeast strains expressing BMV RNA replication proteins 1a and 2apol were engineered to transiently coexpress two independently inducible, overlapping, nonreplicating derivatives of BMV genomic RNA3. B3Δ′ lacked the coat protein gene and negative-strand RNA promoter. B3Δ5′ lacked the positive-strand RNA promoter and had the coat gene replaced by the selectable URA3 gene. After 12 to 72 h of induction, B3Δ3′ and B3Δ5′ transcription was repressed and Ura + yeast cells were selected. All Ura+ cells contained recombinant RNA3 replicons expressing URA3. Most replicons arose by intermolecular homologous recombination between B3Δ3′ and B3Δ5′. Such recombinants were isolated only when 1a and 2a pol were expressed and after transient transcription of both B3Δ3′ and B3Δ5′, showing that recombination occurred at the RNA, not DNA, level. A minority of URA3-expressing replicons were derived from B3Δ5′, independently of B3Δ3′, by 5′ truncation and modification, generating novel positive-strand promoters and demonstrating that BMV can give rise to subgenomic RNA replicons. Intermolecular B3Δ3′-B3Δ5′ recombination occurred only when both parental RNAs bore a functional, cis-acting template recognition and recruitment element targeting viral RNAs to replication complexes. The results imply that recombination occurred in RNA replication complexes to which parental RNAs were independently recruited. Moreover, the ability to obtain intermolecular recombinants at precisely measurable, reproducible frequencies, to control genetic background and induction conditions, and other features of this system will facilitate further studies of virus and host functions in RNA recombination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8316-8328
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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