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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Dec 18;98(26):15270-5. Epub 2001 Dec 11.

Recombinant hepatitis E virus genomes infectious for primates: importance of capping and discovery of a cis-reactive element.

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  • 1Molecular Hepatitis and Hepatitis Viruses Sections, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Hepatitis E virus recombinant genomes transcribed in vitro from two cDNA clones differing by two nucleotides were infectious for chimpanzees. However, one cDNA clone encoded a virus that was attenuated for chimpanzees and unable to infect rhesus monkeys. The second cDNA clone encoded a virus that infected both chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys and caused acute hepatitis in both. One mutation differentiating the two clones identified a cis-reactive element that appeared to overlap the 3' end of the capsid gene and part of the 3' noncoding region. Capping of the RNA transcripts was essential for infectivity.

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