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Authors: Burke, Gaelen R and Simmonds, Tyler J and Thomas, Sarah A and Strand, Michael R

Polydnaviruses are large, double-stranded DNA viruses that are beneficial symbionts of parasitoid wasps. Polydnaviruses in the genus Bracovirus (BVs) persist in wasps as proviruses, and their genomes consist of two functional components referred to as proviral segments and nudivirus-like genes. Prior studies established that the DNA domains where proviral segments reside are amplified during replication and that segments within amplified loci are circularized before packaging into nucleocapsids. One DNA domain where nudivirus-like genes are located is also amplified but never packaged into virions. We recently sequenced the genome of the braconid Microplitis demolitor, which carries M. demolitor bracovirus (MdBV). Here, we took advantage of this resource to characterize the DNAs that are amplified during MdBV replication using a combination of Illumina and Pacific Biosciences sequencing approaches. The results showed that specific nucleotide sites identify the boundaries of amplification for proviral loci. Surprisingly, however, amplification of loci 3, 4, 6, and 8 produced head-to-tail concatemeric intermediates; loci 1, 2, and 5 produced head-to-head/tail-to-tail concatemers; and locus 7 yielded no identified concatemers. Sequence differences at amplification junctions correlated with the types of amplification intermediates the loci produced, while concatemer processing gave rise to the circularized DNAs that are packaged into nucleocapsids. The MdBV nudivirus-like gene cluster was also amplified, albeit more weakly than most proviral loci and with nondiscrete boundaries. Overall, the MdBV genome exhibited three patterns of DNA amplification during replication. Our data also suggest that PacBio sequencing could be useful in studying the replication intermediates produced by other DNA viruses. Polydnaviruses are of fundamental interest because they provide a novel example of viruses evolving into beneficial symbionts. All polydnaviruses are associated with insects called parasitoid wasps, which are of additional applied interest because many are biological control agents of pest insects. Polydnaviruses in the genus Bracovirus (BVs) evolved ~100 million years ago from an ancestor related to the baculovirus-nudivirus lineage but have also established many novelties due to their symbiotic lifestyle. These include the fact that BVs are transmitted only vertically as proviruses and produce replication-defective virions that package only a portion of the viral genome. Here, we studied Microplitis demolitor bracovirus (MdBV) and report that its genome exhibits three distinct patterns of DNA amplification during replication. We also identify several previously unknown features of BV genomes that correlate with these different amplification patterns. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Journal: Journal of virology
DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01388-15
Year: 2015

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