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Eur J Cell Biol. 2012 Jan;91(1):10-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2011.01.008. Epub 2011 Mar 12.

Significantly improved rescue of rabies virus from cDNA plasmids.

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Max von Pettenkofer-Institute & Gene Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Feodor-Lynen-Strasse 25, Munich, Germany.


The rescue of recombinant rabies virus (RV) from cloned cDNA is an inefficient process because it relies on the de novo formation within cells of functional ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes from plasmid-expressed viral-like antigenome RNAs and three helper proteins. In the standard RV reverse genetics systems, bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase drives the transcription of virus antigenome-like RNAs containing three nonviral G residues at the 5'-end and a correct 3'-end generated by the autocatalytic activity of an 85 nucleotides long hepatitis delta virus antigenomic "core" ribozyme (HDVagrz). Here, we show that employing optimized ribozyme sequences significantly improves RV rescue. Substitution of the "core" HDVagrz by a ribozyme with an enhanced cleavage activity resulted in an approximately 10-fold higher number of rescue events and faster initiation of an infectious cycle. The alternative use of a hammerhead ribozyme for the generation of an exact 5'-end similarly enhanced rescue efficiency. Notably, RV cDNA clones containing the combination of optimized 3'- and 5'-ribozymes were rescued at an at least 100-fold increase. In addition to virus rescue, reporter gene expression from transfected minigenome cDNAs was significantly enhanced by the novel ribozymes. The improved RV reverse genetics system greatly facilitates recovery of strongly attenuated viruses and vectors for biomedical applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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