Viruses are masters of evolution due to high frequency mutations and genetic recombination. In spite of the significance of viral RNA recombination that promotes the emergence of drug-resistant virus strains, the role of host and environmental factors in RNA recombination is poorly understood. Here we report that the host Met22p/Hal2p bisphosphate-3'-nucleotidase regulates the frequency of viral RNA recombination and the efficiency of viral replication. Based on Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) and yeast as a model host, we demonstrate that deletion of MET22 in yeast or knockdown of AHL, SAL1 and FRY1 nucleotidases/phosphatases in plants leads to increased TBSV recombination and replication. Using a cell-free TBSV recombination/replication assay, we show that the substrate of the above nucleotidases, namely 3'-phosphoadenosine-5'-phosphate pAp, inhibits the activity of the Xrn1p 5'-3' ribonuclease, a known suppressor of TBSV recombination. Inhibition of the activity of the nucleotidases by LiCl and NaCl also leads to increased TBSV recombination, demonstrating that environmental factors could also affect viral RNA recombination. Thus, host factors in combination with environmental factors likely affect virus evolution and adaptation.

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Published in PLoS Pathogens, v. 6, no. 10, e1001156.

© 2010 Jaag, Nagy. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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