Small plus-stranded RNA viruses do not code for RNA helicases that would facilitate the proper folding of viral RNAs during replication. Instead, these viruses might use RNA chaperones as shown here for the essential p33 replication protein of Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV). In vitro experiments demonstrate that the purified recombinant p33 promotes strand separation of a DNA/RNA duplex. In addition, p33 renders dsRNA templates sensitive to single-strand specific S1 nuclease, suggesting that p33 can destabilize highly structured RNAs. We also demonstrate that the RNA chaperone activity of p33 facilitates self-cleavage by a ribozyme in vitro. In addition, purified p33 facilitates in vitro RNA synthesis on double-stranded (ds)RNA templates up to 5-fold by a viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. We propose that the RNA chaperone activity of p33 facilitates the initiation of plus-strand synthesis as well as affects RNA recombination. Altogether, the TBSV RNA chaperone might perform similar biological functions to the helicases of other RNA viruses with much larger coding capacity. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
Stork, J., Kovalev, N., Sasvari, Z., & Nagy, P. D. (2011). RNA chaperone activity of the tombusviral p33 replication protein facilitates initiation of RNA synthesis by the viral RdRp in vitro. Virology, 409(2), 338–347. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2010.10.015