Viroids are circular noncoding RNAs that infect plants. Without encoding any protein, these noncoding RNAs contain the necessary genetic information for propagation in hosts. Nuclear-replicating viroids employ DNA-dependent RNA polymerase II (Pol II) for replication, a process that makes a DNA-dependent enzyme recognize RNA templates. Recently, a splicing variant of transcription factor IIIA (TFIIIA-7ZF) was identified as essential for Pol II to replicate potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd). The expression of TFIIIA-7ZF, particularly the splicing event, is regulated by a ribosomal protein (RPL5). PSTVd modulates its expression through a direct interaction with RPL5 resulting in optimized expression of TFIIIA-7ZF. This review summarizes the recent discoveries of host factors and regulatory mechanisms underlying PSTVd-templated transcription processes and raises new questions that may help future exploration in this direction. In addition, it briefly compares the machinery and the regulatory mechanism for PSTVd with the replication/transcription system of human hepatitis delta virus.
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