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Gene overlap and site-specific attenuation of transcription of the viral polymerase L gene of human respiratory syncytial virus.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


Sequence analysis of the gene encoding polymerase L protein of respiratory syncytial virus showed that L-gene transcription initiates within its upstream neighbor, the gene encoding the 22-kDa protein 22K. This is an exception to the canonical mode of sequential transcription of nonoverlapping genes described for other nonsegmented negative-strand RNA viruses. As a consequence of the gene overlap, the termination/polyadenylylation signal for the 22K gene is located at nucleotides 56-68 within the L gene. L-gene transcription yielded two RNAs: an abundant, truncated, polyadenylylated transcript resulting from termination at the internal signal and a markedly less abundant large polyadenylylated transcript representing the complete L gene. This result showed that the internal termination/polyadenylylation signal is an attenuator of L-gene transcription.

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