Papaya leaf distortion mosaic virus (PLDMV) is becoming a threat to papaya and transgenic papaya resistant to the related pathogen, papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). The generation of infectious viral clones is an essential step for reverse-genetics studies of viral gene function and cross-protection. In this study, a sequence- and ligation-independent cloning system, the In-Fusion®
Cloning Kit (Clontech, Mountain View, CA, USA), was used to construct intron-less or intron-containing full-length cDNA clones of the isolate PLDMV-DF, with the simultaneous scarless assembly of multiple viral and intron fragments into a plasmid vector in a single reaction. The intron-containing full-length cDNA clone of PLDMV-DF was stably propagated in Escherichia coli. In vitro
intron-containing transcripts were processed and spliced into biologically active intron-less transcripts following mechanical inoculation and then initiated systemic infections in Carica papaya
L. seedlings, which developed similar symptoms to those caused by the wild-type virus. However, no infectivity was detected when the plants were inoculated with RNA transcripts from the intron-less construct because the instability of the viral cDNA clone in bacterial cells caused a non-sense or deletion mutation of the genomic sequence of PLDMV-DF. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the construction of an infectious full-length cDNA clone of PLDMV and the splicing of intron-containing transcripts following mechanical inoculation. In-Fusion cloning shortens the construction time from months to days. Therefore, it is a faster, more flexible, and more efficient method than the traditional multistep restriction enzyme-mediated subcloning procedure.
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