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Virology. 1998 May 10;244(2):365-96.

The complete genomic sequence of the modified vaccinia Ankara strain: comparison with other orthopoxviruses.

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Biomedical Research Center, Hyland-Immuno, Orth/Donau, Austria.

Erratum in

  • Virology. 2006 Jul 5;350(2):501-2.


The complete genomic DNA sequence of the highly attenuated vaccinia strain modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) was determined. The genome of MVA is 178 kb in length, significantly smaller than that of the vaccinia Copenhagen genome, which is 192 kb. The 193 open reading frames (ORFs) mapped in the MVA genome probably correspond to 177 genes, 25 of which are split and/or have suffered mutations resulting in truncated proteins. The left terminal genomic region of MVA contains four large deletions and one large insertion relative to the Copenhagen strain. In addition, many ORFs in this region are fragmented, leaving only eight genes structurally intact and therefore presumably functional. The inserted DNA codes for a cluster of genes that is also found in the vaccinia WR strain and in cowpox virus and includes a highly fragmented gene homologous to the cowpox virus host range gene, providing further evidence that a cowpox-like virus was the ancestor of vaccinia. Surprisingly, the central conserved region of the genome also contains some fragmented genes, including ORF F5L, encoding a major membrane protein, and ORFs F11L and O1L, encoding proteins of 39.7 and 77.6 kDa, respectively. The right terminal genomic region carries three large deletions all classical poxviral immune evasion genes and all ankyrin-like genes located in this region are fragmented except for those encoding the interleukin-1 beta receptor and the 68-kDa ankyrin-like protein B18R. Thus, the attenuated phenotype of MVA is the result of numerous mutations, particularly affecting the host interactive proteins, including the ankyrin-like genes, but also involving some structural proteins.

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