Polysomally protected viruses

Wilkinson, Michael; Yllanes, David and Huber, Greg (2021). Polysomally protected viruses. Physical Biology, 18(4), article no. 046009.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1478-3975/abf5b5


It is conceivable that an RNA virus could use a polysome, that is, a string of ribosomes covering the RNA strand, to protect the genetic material from degradation inside a host cell. This paper discusses how such a virus might operate, and how its presence might be detected by ribosome profiling. There are two possible forms for such a polysomally protected virus, depending upon whether just the forward strand or both the forward and complementary strands can be encased by ribosomes (these will be termed type 1 and type 2, respectively). It is argued that in the type 2 case the viral RNA would evolve an ambigrammatic property, whereby the viral genes are free of stop codons in a reverse reading frame (with forward and reverse codons aligned). Recent observations of ribosome profiles of ambigrammatic narnavirus sequences are consistent with our predictions for the type 2 case.

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