Involvement of the chloroplastic isoform of tRNA ligase in the replication of viroids belonging to the family Avsunviroidae

Author(s): Nohales MÁ, Molina-Serrano D, Flores R, Daròs JA

Abstract

Avocado sunblotch viroid, peach latent mosaic viroid, chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid, and eggplant latent viroid (ELVd), the four recognized members of the family Avsunviroidae, replicate through the symmetric pathway of an RNA-to-RNA rolling-circle mechanism in chloroplasts of infected cells. Viroid oligomeric transcripts of both polarities contain embedded hammerhead ribozymes that, during replication, mediate their self-cleavage to monomeric-length RNAs with 5'-hydroxyl and 2',3'-phosphodiester termini that are subsequently circularized. We report that a recombinant version of the chloroplastic isoform of the tRNA ligase from eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) efficiently catalyzes in vitro circularization of the plus [(+)] and minus [(-)] monomeric linear replication intermediates from the four Avsunviroidae. We also show that while this RNA ligase specifically recognizes the genuine monomeric linear (+) ELVd replication intermediate, it does not do so with five other monomeric linear (+) ELVd RNAs with their ends mapping at different sites along the molecule, despite containing the same 5'-hydroxyl and 2',3'-phosphodiester terminal groups. Moreover, experiments involving transient expression of a dimeric (+) ELVd transcript in Nicotiana benthamiana Domin plants preinoculated with a tobacco rattle virus-derived vector to induce silencing of the plant endogenous tRNA ligase show a significant reduction of ELVd circularization. In contrast, circularization of a viroid replicating in the nucleus occurring through a different pathway is unaffected. Together, these results support the conclusion that the chloroplastic isoform of the plant tRNA ligase is the host enzyme mediating circularization of both (+) and (-) monomeric linear intermediates during replication of the viroids belonging to the family Avsunviroidae.

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