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J Med Virol. 2007 Oct;79(10):1527-36.

Tula and Puumala hantavirus NSs ORFs are functional and the products inhibit activation of the interferon-beta promoter.

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Department of Virology, Haartman Institute, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.


The S RNA genome segment of hantaviruses carried by Arvicolinae and Sigmodontinae rodents encodes the nucleocapsid (N) protein and has an overlapping (+1) open reading frame (ORF) for a putative nonstructural protein (NSs). The aim of this study was to determine whether the ORF is functional. A protein corresponding to the predicted size of Tula virus (TULV) NSs was detected using coupled in vitro transcription and translation from a cloned S segment cDNA, and a protein corresponding to the predicted size of Puumala virus (PUUV) NSs was detected in infected cells by Western blotting with an anti-peptide serum. The activities of the interferon beta (IFN-beta) promoter, and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB)- and interferon regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3) responsive promoters, were inhibited in COS-7 cells transiently expressing TULV or PUUV NSs. Also IFN-beta mRNA levels in IFN-competent MRC5 cells either infected with TULV or transiently expressing NSs were decreased. These data demonstrate that Tula and Puumala hantaviruses have a functional NSs ORF. The findings may explain why the NSs ORF has been preserved in the genome of most hantaviruses during their long evolution and why hantavirus-infected cells secrete relatively low levels of IFNs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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