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Coronavirus transcription: subgenomic mouse hepatitis virus replicative intermediates function in RNA synthesis

Coronavirus transcription: subgenomic mouse hepatitis virus replicative intermediates function in RNA synthesis

Journal of Virology 64(3): 1050-1056

Both genomic and subgenomic replicative intermediates (RIs) and replicative-form (RF) structures were found in 17CL1 mouse cells that had been infected with the A59 strain of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), a prototypic coronavirus. Seven species of RNase-resistant RF RNAs, whose sizes were consistent with the fact that each was derived from an RI that was engaged in the synthesis of one of the seven MHV positive-strand RNAs, were produced by treatment with RNase A. Because the radiolabeling of the seven RF RNAs was proportional to that of the corresponding seven positive-strand RNAs, the relative rate of synthesis of each of the MHV positive-strand RNAs may be controlled by the relative number of each of the size classes of RIs that are produced. In contrast to alphavirus, which produced its subgenome-length RF RNAs from genome-length RIs, MHV RF RNAs were derived from genome- and subgenome-length RIs. Only the three largest MHV RF RNAs (RFI, RFII, and RFIII) were derived from the RIs that migrated slowest on agarose gels. The four smallest RF RNAs (RFIV, RFV, RFVI, and RFVII) were derived from RIs that migrated in a broad region of the gel that extended from the position of 28S rRNA to the position of the viral single-stranded MHV mRNA-3. Because all seven RIs were labeled during very short pulses with [3H]uridine, we concluded that the subgenome-length RIs are transcriptionally active. These findings, with the recent report of the presence of subgenome-length negative-strand RNAs in cells infected with porcine transmissible gastroenteritis virus (P. B. Sethna, S.-L. Hung, and D. A. Brian, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86: 5626-5630, 1989), strongly suggest that coronaviruses utilize a novel replication strategy that employs the synthesis of subgenomic negative strands to produce subgenomic mRNAs.

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Accession: 007162659

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PMID: 2154591

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