Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Fungal negative-stranded RNA virus that is related to bornaviruses and nyaviruses.

PMID 25092337


Mycoviruses are widespread in nature and often occur with dsRNA and positive-stranded RNA genomes. Recently, strong evidence from RNA sequencing analysis suggested that negative-stranded (-)ssRNA viruses could infect fungi. Here we describe a (-)ssRNA virus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum negative-stranded RNA virus 1 (SsNSRV-1), isolated from a hypovirulent strain of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. The complete genome of SsNSRV-1 is 10,002 nt with six ORFs that are nonoverlapping and linearly arranged. Conserved gene-junction sequences that occur widely in mononegaviruses, (A/U)(U/A/C)UAUU(U/A)AA(U/G)AAAACUUAGG(A/U)(G/U), were identified between these ORFs. The analyses 5' and 3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends showed that all genes can be transcribed independently. ORF V encodes the largest protein that contains a conserved mononegaviral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) domain. Putative enveloped virion-like structures with filamentous morphology similar to members of Filoviridae were observed both in virion preparation samples and in ultrathin hyphal sections. The nucleocapsids are long, flexible, and helical; and are 22 nm in diameter and 200-2,000 nm in length. SDS/PAGE showed that the nucleocapsid possibly contains two nucleoproteins with different molecular masses, ∼43 kDa (p43) and ∼41 kDa (p41), and both are translated from ORF II. Purified SsNSRV-1 virions successfully transfected a virus-free strain of S. sclerotiorum and conferred hypovirulence. Phylogenetic analysis based on RdRp showed that SsNSRV-1 is clustered with viruses of Nyamiviridae and Bornaviridae. Moreover, SsNSRV-1 is widely distributed, as it has been detected in different regions of China. Our findings demonstrate that a (-)ssRNA virus can occur naturally in fungi and enhance our understanding of the ecology and evolution of (-)ssRNA viruses.