All of the fully sequenced iridoviruses have an ORF resembling a putative RNase III gene. However, to the best of our knowledge, functional characterization of the iridovirus-encoded RNase III has not been done. In the present study, we have characterized the putative RNase III of rock bream iridovirus (RBIV), the major cause of mass mortality of cultured rock bream Oplegnathus fasciatus in Korea. RBIV RNase III has a single N-terminal endonuclease domain followed by a C-terminal double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding domain. The true presence of the predicted ORF encoding RNase III in RBIV was confirmed by temporal transcription analysis of the ORF in RBIV-infected grunt fin (GF) cells. Comparing the catalytic activity to that of previously reported RNase III proteins, including Escherichia coli RNase III, the present RBIV RNase III had different features in that: (1) the dsRNA substrate was cleaved by the RBIV RNase III at high concentrations of Mg 2+ (5–20 mM) at low salt concentration (50 mM), but the enzyme activity was completely inhibited at 200 mM NaCl (within physiological ranges) irrespective of Mg 2+ concentrations (0.5–20 mM); (2) the substrate dsRNA was cleaved at low concentrations of Mn 2+ (0.5–1 mM) at low salt concentration (50 mM) and was cleaved by increasing Mn 2+ (5–20 mM) at 200 mM salt. These features of RBIV RNase III are similar to E. coli RNase III devoid of the C-terminal dsRBD region. The exact role of the RNase III in RBIV replication is not known, and further studies are needed to elucidate whether the RNase III is involved in the suppression of host RNA interference, which attacks viral mRNAs, or in the processing of viral RNAs for effective replication.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2008
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