Annual Review of Virology (2019) 6, 255-274

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Hongguang Cui and Aiming Wang (2019)
The biological impact of the hypervariable N-terminal region of potyviral genomes
Annual Review of Virology 6, 255-274
Abstract: Potyviridae is the largest family of plant-infecting RNA viruses, encompassing over 30% of known plant viruses. The family is closely related to animal picornaviruses such as enteroviruses and belongs to the picorna-like supergroup. Like all other picorna-like viruses, potyvirids employ polyprotein processing as a gene expression strategy and have single-stranded, positive-sense RNA genomes, most of which are monopartite with a long open reading frame. The potyvirid polyproteins are highly conserved in the central and carboxy-terminal regions. In contrast, the N-terminal region is hypervariable and contains position-specific mutations resulting from transcriptional slippage during viral replication, leading to translational frameshift to produce additional viral proteins essential for viral infection. Some potyvirids even lack one of the N-terminal proteins P1 or helper component-protease and have a genus-specific or species-specific protein instead. This review summarizes current knowledge about the conserved and divergent features of potyvirid genomes and biological relevance and discusses future research directions.
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