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Virology. 1990 Jul;177(1):225-38.

Sequence of the genome RNA of rubella virus: evidence for genetic rearrangement during togavirus evolution.

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Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta 30302-4010.


The nucleotide sequence of the rubella virus (RUB) genomic RNA was determined. The RUB genomic RNA is 9757 nucleotides in length [excluding the poly(A) tail] and has a G/C content of 69.5%, the highest of any RNA virus sequenced to data. The RUB genomic RNA contains two long open reading frames (ORFs), a 5'-proximal ORF of 6656 nucleotides and a 3'-proximal ORF of 3189 nucleotides which encodes the structural proteins. Thus, the genomic organization of RUB is similar to that of alphaviruses, the other genus of the Togavirus family, and the 5'-proximal ORF of RUB therefore putatively codes for the nonstructural proteins. Sequences homologous to three regions of nucleotide sequence highly conserved among alphaviruses (a stem-and-loop structure at the 5' end of the genome, a 51-nucleotide conserved sequence near the 5' end of the genome, and a 20-nucleotide conserved sequence at the subgenomic RNA start site) were found in the RUB genomic RNA. Amino acid sequence comparisons between the nonstructural ORF of RUB and alphaviruses revealed only one short (122 amino acids) region of significant homology, indicating that these viruses are only distantly related. This region of homology is located at the NH2 terminus of nsP3 in the alphavirus genome. The RUB nonstructural protein ORF contains two global amino acid motifs conserved in a large number of positive-polarity RNA viruses, a motif indicative of helicase activity and a motif indicative of replicase activity. The order of the helicase motif and the nsP3 homology region in the RUB genome is reversed with respect to the alphavirus genome indicating that a genetic rearrangement has occurred during the evolution of these viruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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