Characterization of Chelonus inanitus polydnavirus segments: sequences and analysis, excision site and demonstration of clusteri

Polydnaviruses (genera Ichnovirus and Bracovirus) have a segmented genome of circular double-stranded DNA molecules, replicate in the ovary of parasitic wasps and are essential for successful parasitism of the host. Here we show the first detailed analysis of various segments of a bracovirus, the Chelonus inanitus virus (CiV). Four segments were sequenced and two of them, CiV12 and CiV14, were found to be closely related while CiV14.5 and CiV16.8 were unrelated. CiV12, CiV14.5 and CiV16.8 are unique while CiV14 occurs also nested in another larger segment. All four segments are predicted to contain genes and predictions could be substantiated in most cases. Comparison with databases revealed no significant similarities at either the nucleotide or amino acid level. Inverted repeats with identities between 77% and 92% and lengths between 26 bp and 100 bp were found on all segments outside of predicted genes. Hybridization experiments indicate that CiV12 and CiV14 are both flanked by other virus segments, suggesting that proviral CiV segments are clustered in the genome of the wasp. The integration/excision site of CiV14 was analysed and compared to that of CiV12. On both termini of proviral CiV12 and CiV14 as well as in the excised circular molecule and the rejoined DNA a very similar repeat of 14 bp was found. A model to illustrate where the terminal repeats might recombine to yield the circular molecule is presented. Excision of CiV12 and CiV14 is restricted to the female and sets in at a very specific time-point in pupal-adult development.

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