Volume 342 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 75-79

Characterization of the Human Coronavirus 229E (HCV 229E) Gene 1

  • Jens HeroldAffiliated withInstitut für Virologie, Universität Würzburg
  • , Thomas RaabeAffiliated withInstitut für Virologie, Universität Würzburg
  • , Stuart G. SiddellAffiliated withInstitut für Virologie, Universität Würzburg

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The sequence of the HCV 229E gene 1 has been determined and compared with the homologous sequences of the murine hepatitis virus and the avian infectious bronchitis virus. The coding sequence of gene 1 is 20 273 nucleotides in length. Within this coding region are two large open reading frames, ORF 1a (4 086 codons) and ORF 1b (2 687 codons) which overlap by 40 nucleotides. In the overlapping region, the genomic RNA can be folded into a pseudoknot structure, an element which is known to mediate -1 ribosomal frame-shifting in other coronaviruses. Assuming that -1 frame-shifting occurs at the HCV sequence UUUAAAC (nucleotides 12 514–12 520), the ORF 1a - ORF 1b product is predicted to be 6 758 amino acids in length. Our sequence analysis of the HCV 229E gene 1 has revealed a high degree of similarity within the ORF 1b of HCV, MHV and IBV, whereas ORF 1a is much less conserved. Elements which are believed to be necessary for specific (e.g. frame-shifting) and general (e.g. NTP-binding/helicase) transcriptional functions have been identified. This study completes the genomic sequence of HCV 229E which is 27.27 kb long and one of the largest known RNA genomes.