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J Virol. 1999 Mar;73(3):2333-42.

Comparison of the transcription and replication strategies of marburg virus and Ebola virus by using artificial replication systems.

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  • 1Institut für Virologie der Philipps-Universität Marburg, 35037 Marburg, Germany.


The members of the family Filoviridae, Marburg virus (MBGV) and Ebola virus (EBOV), are very similar in terms of morphology, genome organization, and protein composition. To compare the replication and transcription strategies of both viruses, an artificial replication system based on the vaccinia virus T7 expression system was established for EBOV. Specific transcription and replication of an artificial monocistronic minireplicon was demonstrated by reporter gene expression and detection of the transcribed and replicated RNA species. As it was shown previously for MBGV, three of the four EBOV nucleocapsid proteins, NP, VP35, and L, were essential and sufficient for replication. In contrast to MBGV, EBOV-specific transcription was dependent on the presence of the fourth nucleocapsid protein, VP30. When EBOV VP30 was replaced by MBGV VP30, EBOV-specific transcription was observed but with lower efficiency. Exchange of NP, VP35, and L between the two replication systems did not lead to detectable reporter gene expression. It was further observed that neither MBGV nor EBOV were able to replicate the heterologous minigenomes. A chimeric minigenome, however, containing the EBOV leader and the MBGV trailer was encapsidated, replicated, transcribed, and packaged by both viruses.

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