Correlation between recombination junctions and RNA secondary structure elements in poliovirus Sabin strains
In order to test the hypothesis that RNA structural elements promote the distribution of certain types of recombination junctions in each one of the 2C and 3D poliovirus genomic regions (Sabin 3/Sabin 2 or Sabin 1 in 2C and Sabin 2/Sabin 1 or Sabin 3 in 3D), we searched in 2C and 3D regions of reference Sabin strains for high probability RNA structural elements that could promote recombination. Recombination junctions that were identified in clinical strains of this study, as well as in clinical strains of previous studies, were superimposed on RNA secondary structure models of 2C and 3D genomic regions. Furthermore, we created an in vitro model, based on double infection of cell-culture with two poliovirus strains, for the production and identification of recombinant Sabin strains in 2C and 3D regions. Our intention was to compare the results that refer to the correlation of recombination junctions and RNA secondary structures in 2C and 3D regions of clinical strains, with the respective results of the in vitro model. Most of the recombination junctions of the clinical strains were correlated with RNA secondary structure elements, which were identical between recombining Sabin strains, and also presented high predictive value. In consensus were, the respective results originated from the in vitro model. We propose that the distribution of specific types of recombination junctions in certain regions of Sabin strains is not fortuitous and is correlated with RNA secondary structure elements identical to both recombination partners. Furthermore, results of this study highlight an important role for the stem region of the RNA structure elements in promoting recombination.