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A novel subviral agent associated with a geminivirus: The first report of a DNA satellite

  • Ian B. Dry
  • Leslie R. Krake
  • Justin E. Rigden
  • M. Ali Rezaian
The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Publication Date
Jun 24, 1997
  • Biology


Numerous plant RNA viruses have associated with them satellite (sat) RNAs that have little or no nucleotide sequence similarity to either the viral or host genomes but are completely dependent on the helper virus for replication. We report here on the discovery of a 682-nt circular DNA satellite associated with tomato leaf curl geminivirus (TLCV) infection in northern Australia. This is the first demonstration that satellite molecules are not limited to RNA viral systems. The DNA satellite (TLCV sat-DNA) is strictly dependent for replication on the helper virus replication-associated protein and is encapsidated by TLCV coat protein. It has no significant open reading frames, and it shows no significant sequence similarity to the 2766-nt helper-virus genome except for two short motifs present in separate putative stem–loop structures: TAATATTAC, which is universally conserved in all geminiviruses, and AATCGGTGTC, which is identical to a putative replication-associated protein binding motif in TLCV. Replication of TLCV sat-DNA is also supported by other taxonomically distinct geminiviruses, including tomato yellow leaf curl virus, African cassava mosaic virus, and beet curly top virus. Therefore, this unique DNA satellite does not appear to strictly conform with the requirements that dictate the specificity of interaction of geminiviral replication-associated proteins with their cognate origins as predicted by the current model of geminivirus replication.

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