Cap-snatching as a possible contributor to photosynthesis shut-off

Xu, Min; Risse, Judith; Kormelink, Richard


Cap-snatching is a mechanism applied by segmented, negative strand (-) RNA viruses (NSVs) to initiate genome transcription. So far, the cap donor source of cytoplasmic-replicating NSVs has remained elusive. Recently, studies pointed to processing body (P body, PB) as the potential source for providing capped RNAs but conclusive evidence is still lacking. To attempt identifying these sources, here the 5' non-viral leader sequences of Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) N mRNAs were analysed by high-throughput sequencing (HTS) from plants subjected to normal and heat-stress conditions, and subsequently mapped on host donor transcripts. The majority of non-viral heterogenous, host-derived leader sequences ranged in size between ~10-20‚ÄČnt and contained A or AG residues at the cleavage site and the presence of certain sequence motifs. Mapping the capped-leader sequences to the 5' UTR region of genes encoded by the Nicotiana tabacum genome, identified 348 donor genes and which were specifically enriched in cellular photosynthesis pathway. Nineteen of those were clearly expressed differentially at normal condition versus heat-stress conditions. Although the results did not point towards snatching of capped-RNA leader sequences from certain cytoplasmic RNA granules in particular, they indicated photosynthesis downregulation (and development of disease symptoms) partially result from cap-snatching.