Overlapping signals for transcription and replication at the 3' terminus of the vesicular stomatitis virus genome

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Transcription and replication signals within the negative-sense genomic RNA of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) are located at the 3' terminus. To identify these signals, we have used a transcription- and replication- competent minigenome of VSV to generate a series of deletions spanning the first 47 nucleotides at the 3' terminus of the VSV genome corresponding to the leader gene. Analysis of these mutants for their ability to replicate showed that deletion of sequences within the first 24 nucleotides abrogated or greatly reduced the level of replication. Deletion of downstream sequences from nucleotides 25 to 47 reduced the level of replication only to 55 to 70% of that of the parental template. When transcription activity of these templates was measured, the first 24 nucleotides were also found to be required for transcription, since deletion of these sequences blocked or significantly reduced transcription. Downstream sequences from nucleotides 25 to 47 were necessary for optimal levels of transcription. Furthermore, replacement of sequences within the 25 to 47 nucleotides with random heterologous nonviral sequences generated mutant templates that replicated well (65 to 70% of the wild-type levels) but were transcribed poorly (10 to 15% of the wild-type levels). These results suggest that the minimal promoter for transcription and replication could be as small as the first 19 nucleotides and is contained within the 3'-terminal 24 nucleotides of the VSV genome. The sequences from nucleotides 25 to 47 may play a more important role in optimal transcription than in replication. Our results also show that deletion of sequences within the leader gene does not influence the site of transcription reinitiation of the downstream gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-452
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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