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Dexheimer, S.; Shrestha, N.; Chapagain, B.S.; Bujarski, J.J.; Yin, Y. Characterization of Variant RNAs Encapsidated during Bromovirus Infection by High-Throughput Sequencing. Pathogens 2024, 13, 96. pathogens13010096


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Previously, we described the RNA recombinants accumulating in tissues infected with the bromoviruses BMV (Brome mosaic virus) and CCMV (Cowpea chlorotic mottle virus). In this work, we characterize the recombinants encapsidated inside the purified virion particles of BMV and CCMV. By using a tool called the Viral Recombination Mapper (ViReMa) that detects recombination junctions, we analyzed a high number of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) short RNA sequence reads. Over 28% of BMV or CCMV RNA reads did not perfectly map to the viral genomes. ViReMa identified 1.40% and 1.83% of these unmapped reads as the RNA recombinants, respectively, in BMV and CCMV. Intra-segmental crosses were more frequent than the inter-segmental ones. Most intra-segmental junctions carried short insertions/deletions (indels) and caused frameshift mutations. The mutation hotspots clustered mainly within the open reading frames. Substitutions of various lengths were also identified, whereas a small fraction of crosses occurred between viral and their host RNAs. Our data reveal that the virions can package detectable amounts of multivariate recombinant RNAs, contributing to the flexible nature of the viral genomes.