Studies on the Mechanism of RNA Synthesis of a Murine Coronavirus

  • Michael M. C. Lai
  • Ralph S. Baric
  • Peter R. Brayton
  • Stephen A. Stohlman
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 173)


The mechanism of viral RNA replication in mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)-infected cells was studied by oligonucleotide mapping of every mRNA. We discovered that an oligonucleotide. No. 10, was localized at the 5′-end of every mRNA, and was not colinear with the sequences of the virion genomic RNA. This result indicates that all of the mRNAs contain a leader sequence which is joined to the body sequences of the mRNAs. We have also studied the structure of the replicative intermediate (RI) RNA in the MHV-infected cells. This RI RNA consists of a single species corresponding to the MHV genomic RNA. No subgenomic RI structures were detected. Furthermore, the nascent RNA chains in the RI structure contained the leader sequences, suggesting that the leader RNA was not added to the mRNA post-transciptionally, but rather, it was probably synthesized independently and then used as a primer for the synthesis of mRNAs. We have also shown that the poly (A) sequences in the MHV genome were transcribed from the poly (U) sequences present in the negative-strand template. The RNA polymerases involved in the MHV RNA synthesis were also characterized. The early polymerase synthesizes a single negative-stranded, full-length RNA. The late polymerases could be separated into two activities, one synthesizing positive-stranded genomic RNA, and the other synthesizing genomic as well as subgenomic RNAs. Thus, the replication and transcription functions of MHV could probably be separated. A plausible model of MHV replication is presented.


Membrane Complex Replicative Form Replicative Intermediate Mouse Hepatitis Virus Murine Coronavirus 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael M. C. Lai
    • 1
  • Ralph S. Baric
    • 1
  • Peter R. Brayton
    • 1
  • Stephen A. Stohlman
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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