Detailed investigation of virus replication is facilitated by the construction of a full-length infectious clone of the viral genome. To date, this has not been achieved for members of the family Dicistroviridae. Here we demonstrate the construction of a baculovirus that expresses a dicistrovirus that is infectious in its natural host. We inserted a full-length cDNA clone of the genomic RNA of the dicistrovirus Rhopalosiphum padi virus (RhPV) into a baculovirus expression vector. Virus particles containing RhPV RNA accumulated in the nuclei of baculovirus-infected Sf21 cells expressing the recombinant RhPV clone. These virus particles were infectious in R. padi, a ubiquitous aphid vector of major cereal viruses. The recombinant virus was transmitted efficiently between aphids, despite the presence of 119 and 210 vector-derived bases that were stably maintained at the 5′ and 3′ ends, respectively, of the RhPV genome. The maintenance of such a nonviral sequence was surprising considering that most RNA viruses tolerate few nonviral bases beyond their natural termini. The use of a baculovirus to express a small RNA virus opens avenues for investigating replication of dicistroviruses and may allow large-scale production of these viruses for use as biopesticides.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/wallen_miller/1/