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Molecular organization of Leishmania RNA virus 1.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


The complete 5284-nucleotide sequence of the double-stranded RNA genome of Leishmania RNA virus 1 (LRV1) was determined and contains three open reading frames (ORFs) on the plus (+) (mRNA) strand. The predicted amino acid sequence of ORF3 has motifs characteristic of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. ORF2, which may encode the major viral coat protein, overlaps ORF3 by 71 nucleotides, suggesting a +1 translational frameshift to produce a gag-pol type of fusion protein. Two alternative models for the frameshift are presented. The 5' splice leader sequence of kinetoplastid mRNAs is not in LRV1 RNA. This suggests that the 450-base region at the 5' end of the LRV1 (+)-strand, which contains ORF1 and is highly conserved among viral strains, does not encode protein but has a role in initiation of translation and/or RNA stability. The similarity of LRV1 genomic organization, replication cycle, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase sequence to those of the yeast virus ScV L-A suggests a common ancestral origin. The possibility that LRV1 affects pathogenesis in leishmaniasis is intriguing.

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