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RNA Biol. 2011 Mar-Apr;8(2):295-304. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Nidovirus ribonucleases: Structures and functions in viral replication.

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Centre for Infection and Immunity, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, UK.


Nidoviruses employ unique strategies to replicate and express their exceptionally large RNA genomes. The viruses use a variety of enzymes to synthesize, modify and process an extensive set of viral RNAs of both genome and subgenome length, including RNA polymerase, primase, helicase, ribose 2'-O and guanosine-N7 methyltransferases and several types of nuclease activities. In this review, the recent progress in the structural and functional characterization of nidovirus nuclease activities is discussed, focusing on a nidovirus-wide conserved uridylate-specific endoribonuclease, NendoU, and a 3'-to-5' exoribonuclease called ExoN. The latter enzyme is related to members of the DEDD exoribonuclease superfamily and conserved in all nidovirus families with genome sizes approaching 30 kilobases. Recent evidence implicates ExoN in reduced mutation rates during viral RNA replication and, possibly, superior fidelity of nidovirus replicases, leading to the suggestion that ExoN may be a key factor in the expansion of nidovirus genomes to sizes not seen in other RNA viruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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