Mycoreovirus 1 (MyRV1) has 11 double-stranded RNA genome segments (S1 to S11) and confers hypovirulence to the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica. MyRV1 genome rearrangements are frequently generated by a multifunctional protein, p29, encoded by a positive-strand RNA virus, Cryphonectria hypovirus 1. One of its functional roles is RNA silencing suppression. Here, we explored a possible link between MyRV1 genome rearrangements and the host RNA silencing pathway using wild-type (WT) and mutant strains of both MyRV1 and the host fungus. Host strains included deletion mutants of RNA silencing components such as dicer-like (dcl) and argonaute-like (agl) genes, while virus strains included an S4 internal deletion mutant MyRV1/S4ss. Consequently, intragenic rearrangements with nearly complete duplication of the three largest segments, i.e. S1, S2 and S3, were observed even more frequently in the RNA silencing-deficient strains Δdcl2 and Δagl2 infected with MyRV1/S4ss, but not with any other viral/host strain combinations. An interesting difference was noted between genome rearrangement events in the two host strains, i.e. generation of the rearrangement required prolonged culture for Δagl2 in comparison with Δdcl2. These results suggest a role for RNA silencing that suppresses genome rearrangements of a dsRNA virus.
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