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Replication and movement of viroids in host plants

AuthorsNavarro, Beatriz; Gómez, Gustavo CSIC ORCID ; Pallás Benet, Vicente CSIC ORCID
Issue Date2024
CitationFundamentals of Viroid Biology: 63-81 (2024)
AbstractDespite the lack of protein-coding capacity, viroids are able to replicate and move autonomously in their hosts. Members of the family Pospiviroidae and Avsunviroidae replicate in the nucleus and in the chloroplast, respectively, through RNA intermediates, via a rolling circle mechanism consisting of three steps: (i) synthesis of RNA multimers, catalyzed by a host RNA polymerase, (ii) cleavage to monomers, that for chloroplast replicating viroids is mediated by hammerhead ribozymes, and (iii) RNA circularization catalyzed by host ligases. Once viroids enter the cell, they must move intracellularly to reach the specific organelle for replication. Then, to achieve systemic infection, viroids exit from the organelle and invade the neighboring cells through plasmodesmata, and the distal part of the plant through the phloem using a complex trafficking pathway. Several structural RNA motifs and proteins involved in the replication of viroids and in the directional movement across different cell boundaries have been identified.
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