Genetic Diversity and Slow Rates of Evolution in New World Alphaviruses

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Alphavirus is a genus of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) in the family Togaviridae. These viruses have a single-strand messenger or plus-sense RNA genome of ca. 11 700 bases. 42S genomic RNA is found in virions and infected cells; a subgenomic 26S RNA species, identical to the 3’-third of the 42S genomic messenger RNA (mRNA), is present only in infected cells and codes only for the structural proteins (Strauss and Strauss 1986; Schlesinger and Schlesinger 1990).