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Virus Genes. 1998;17(2):151-5.

Sequence comparison of the large genomic RNA segments of two strains of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus differing in pathogenic potential for guinea pigs.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison 53706, USA.


Two strains of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) differ in their ability to cause a lethal disease in outbred guinea pigs: the Armstrong (ARM) strain is not lethal at high doses (10(6) PFU), whereas the WE strain is lethal at less than 10 PFU inoculated intraperitoneally. The high pathogenic potential of LCMV WE has been mapped to the larger (L) of the two genomic RNA segments by genetic reassortment analysis (Riviere, Y., Ahmed, R., Southern, P. J., Buchmeier, M. J. and Oldstone, M. B. A., J. Virol. 55, 704-709, 1985). Here we describe the completed sequence of the LCMV WE L RNA, and its comparison to the L RNA of the non-virulent strain, LCMV ARM. Similar to the L RNA of LCMV ARM, the L RNA of WE is 7.2 kb long and contains two open reading frames (ORFs): the 5" ORF encodes a small RING finger (zinc-binding) protein, p11 Z, and the 3" ORF encodes the putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp or L protein). Comparison of nucleotide sequences for both viruses revealed 84% L RNA homology. At the amino acid level similarity between the two strains is 87% in the Z ORF, and 88% in the RdRp ORF. The most divergent regions are found in the N-terminal parts of the RdRp and Z proteins and are most likely to account for differences in pathogenic potential.

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