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Virus Res. 2003 Jun;93(2):141-50.

Expression strategies of ambisense viruses.

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  • 1Institut Jacques Monod, 2 Place Jussieu-Tour 43, 75251 Paris, Cedex 05, France. marie@pasteur-kh.org


Among the negative RNA viruses, ambisense RNA viruses or 'ambisense viruses' occupy a distinct niche. Ambisense viruses contain at least one ambisense RNA segment, i.e. an RNA that is in part of positive and in part of negative polarity. Because of this unique gene organization, one might expect ambisense RNA viruses to borrow expression strategies from both positive and negative RNA viruses. However, they have little in common with positive RNA viruses, but possess many features of negative RNA viruses. Transcription and/or replication of their RNAs appear generally to be coupled to translation. Such coupling might be important to ensure temporal control of gene expression, allowing the two genes of an ambisense RNA segment to be differently regulated. Ambisense viruses can infect one host asymptomatically and in certain cases, they can lethally infect two hosts of a different kingdom. A possible model to explain the differential behavior of a given virus in different hosts could be that perturbation of the translation machinery would lead to differences in the severity of symptoms.

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