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Coronavirus subgenomic minus-strand RNAs and the potential for mRNA replicons.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1989)
  • David A. Brian, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • P. B. Sethna
  • S. L. Hung

The genome of the porcine transmissible gastroenteritis coronavirus is a plus-strand, polyadenylylated, infectious RNA molecule of approximately 20 kilobases. During virus replication, seven subgenomic mRNAs are generated by what is thought to be a leader-priming mechanism to form a 3'-coterminal nested set. By using radiolabeled, strand-specific, synthetic oligodeoxynucleotide probes in RNA blot hybridization analyses, we have found a minus-strand counterpart for the genome and for each subgenomic mRNA species in the cytoplasm of infected cells. Subgenomic minus strands were found to be components of double-stranded replicative forms and in numbers that surpass full-length antigenome. We propose that subgenomic mRNA replication, in addition to leader-primed transcription, is a significant mechanism of mRNA synthesis and that it functions to amplify mRNAs. It is a mechanism of amplification that has not been described for any other group of RNA viruses. Subgenomic replicons may also function in a manner similar to genomes of defective interfering viruses to lead to the establishment of persistent infections, a universal property of coronaviruses.

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David A. Brian, P. B. Sethna and S. L. Hung. "Coronavirus subgenomic minus-strand RNAs and the potential for mRNA replicons." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 86 Iss. 14 (1989)
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