We have previously shown that most of the defective interfering (DI) RNA of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) are not packaged into virions. We have now identified, after 21 serial undiluted passages of MHV, a small DI RNA, DIssF, which is efficiently packaged into virions. The DIssF RNA replicated at a high efficiency on its transfection into the helper virus-infected cells. The virus release from the transfected cells interfered strongly with mRNA synthesis and growth of helper virus. cDNA cloning and sequence analysis of DIssF RNA revealed that it is 3.6 kb and consists of sequences derived from five discontinuous regions of the genome of the nondefective virus. The first four regions (domains I to IV) from the 5' end are derived from gene 1, which presumably encodes the RNA polymerase of the nondefective virus. The entire domain I (859 nucleotides) and the first 750 nucleotides of domain II are also present in a previously characterized DI RNA, DIssE, which is not efficiently packaged into virions. Furthermore, the junction between these two domains is identical between the two DI RNAs. The remaining 77 nucleotides at the 3' end of domain II and all of domains III (655 nucleotides) and IV (770 nucleotides) are not present in DIssE RNA. These four domains are derived from gene 1. In contrast, the 3'-most domain (domain V, 447 nucleotides) is derived from the 3' end of the genomic RNA and is also present in DIssE. The comparison of primary sequences and packaging properties between DIssE and DIssF RNAs suggested that domains III and IV and part of the 3' end of domain II contain the packaging signal for MHV RNA. This conclusion was confirmed by inserting these DIssF-unique sequences into a DIssE cDNA construct; the in vitro-transcribed RNA from this hybrid construct was efficiently packaged into virion particles. DIssF RNA also contains an open reading frame, which begins from domain I and ends at the 5'-end 20 bases of domain III. In vitro translation of DIssF RNA and metabolic labeling of the virus-infected cells showed that this open reading frame is indeed translated into a 74-kDa protein. The structures of both DIssE and DIssF RNAs suggest that a protein-encoding capability is a common characteristic of MHV DI RNA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science