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Extremely high mutation rate of a hammerhead viroid

AuthorsGago, Selma ; Elena, Santiago F. ; Flores, Ricardo ; Sanjuán, Rafael
Chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid
Mutation rates
Hammerhead ribozymes
RNA replication
Replication fidelity
Issue Date6-Mar-2009
PublisherAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science
CitationScience 323(5919): 1308 (2009)
AbstractThe mutation rates of viroids, plant pathogens with minimal non-protein-coding RNA genomes, are unknown. Their replication is mediated by host RNA polymerases and, in some cases, by hammerhead ribozymes, small self-cleaving motifs embedded in the viroid. By using the principle that the population frequency of nonviable genotypes equals the mutation rate, we screened for changes that inactivated the hammerheads of Chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid. We obtained a mutation rate of 1/400 per site, the highest reported for any biological entity. Such error-prone replication can only be tolerated by extremely simple genomes such as those of viroids and, presumably, the primitive replicons of the RNA world. Our results suggest that the emergence of replication fidelity was critical for the evolution of complexity in the early history of life.
DescriptionSupporting information (Materials and methods, figs. S1-S3, suppl. references) available at: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/data/323/5919/1308/DC1/1
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1169202
Appears in Collections:(IBMCP) Artículos
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