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Viruses. 2017 Oct 21;9(10). pii: E309. doi: 10.3390/v9100309.

The Battle of RNA Synthesis: Virus versus Host.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
Laboratory of Experimental Virology, Department of Medical Microbiology, Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Transcription control is the foundation of gene regulation. Whereas a cell is fully equipped for this task, viruses often depend on the host to supply tools for their transcription program. Over the course of evolution and adaptation, viruses have found diverse ways to optimally exploit cellular host processes such as transcription to their own benefit. Just as cells are increasingly understood to employ nascent RNAs in transcription regulation, recent discoveries are revealing how viruses use nascent RNAs to benefit their own gene expression. In this review, we first outline the two different transcription programs used by viruses, i.e., transcription (DNA-dependent) and RNA-dependent RNA synthesis. Subsequently, we use the distinct stages (initiation, elongation, termination) to describe the latest insights into nascent RNA-mediated regulation in the context of each relevant stage.


Epstein-Barr virus; HIV-1; RNA polymerase II; RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; influenza; nascent RNA; respiratory syncytial virus; transcription

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