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J Gen Virol. 2006 Jul;87(Pt 7):1805-21.

Unravelling the complexities of respiratory syncytial virus RNA synthesis.

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Division of Pathology and Neuroscience, University of Dundee Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK.


Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of paediatric respiratory disease and is the focus of antiviral- and vaccine-development programmes. These goals have been aided by an understanding of the virus genome architecture and the mechanisms by which it is expressed and replicated. RSV is a member of the order Mononegavirales and, as such, has a genome consisting of a single strand of negative-sense RNA. At first glance, transcription and genome replication appear straightforward, requiring self-contained promoter regions at the 3' ends of the genome and antigenome RNAs, short cis-acting elements flanking each of the genes and one polymerase. However, from these minimal elements, the virus is able to generate an array of capped, methylated and polyadenylated mRNAs and encapsidated antigenome and genome RNAs, all in the appropriate ratios to facilitate virus replication. The apparent simplicity of genome expression and replication is a consequence of considerable complexity in the polymerase structure and its cognate cis-acting sequences; here, our understanding of mechanisms by which the RSV polymerase proteins interact with signals in the RNA template to produce different RNA products is reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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