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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2004;283:197-248.

Accessory genes of the paramyxoviridae, a large family of nonsegmented negative-strand RNA viruses, as a focus of active investigation by reverse genetics.

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Toyama Institute of Health, 17-1 Nakataikouyama, Kosugi-machi, 939-0363, Toyama, Japan.


The Paramyxoviridae, a large family of nonsegmented negative-strand RNA viruses, comprises several genera each containing important human and animal pathogens. They possess in common six basal genes essential for viral replication and, in addition, a subset of accessory genes that are largely unique to each genus. These accessory genes are either encoded in one or more alternative overlapping frames of a basal gene, which are accessed transcriptionally or translationally, or inserted before or between the basal genes as one or more extra genes. However, the question of how the individual accessory genes contribute to actual viral replication and pathogenesis remained unanswered. It was not even established whether they are dispensable or indispensable for the viral life cycle. The plasmid-based reverse genetics of the full-length viral genome has now come into wide use to demonstrate that most, if not all, of these putative accessory genes can be disrupted without destroying viral infectivity, conclusively defining them as indeed dispensable accessory genes. Studies on the phenotypes of the resulting gene knockout viruses have revealed that the individual accessory genes greatly contribute specifically and additively to the overall viral fitness both in vitro and in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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