Reverse Genetics Mediated Recovery of Infectious Murine Norovirus

Armando Arias, Luis Urena, Lucy Thorne, Muhammad A. Yunus, Ian Goodfellow

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Abstract

Human noroviruses are responsible for most cases of human gastroenteritis (GE) worldwide and are recurrent problem in environments where close person-to-person contact cannot be avoided (1, 2). During the last few years an increase in the incidence of outbreaks in hospitals has been reported, causing significant disruptions to their operational capacity as well as large economic losses. The identification of new antiviral approaches has been limited due to the inability of human noroviruses to complete a productive infection in cell culture (3). The recent isolation of a murine norovirus (MNV), closely related to human norovirus 4 but which can be propagated in cells (5) has opened new avenues for the investigation of these pathogens (6, 7). MNV replication results in the synthesis of new positive sense genomic and subgenomic RNA molecules, the latter of which corresponds to the last third of the viral genome (Figure 1). MNV contains four different open reading frames (ORFs), of which ORF1 occupies most of the genome and encodes seven non-structural proteins (NS1-7) released from a polyprotein precursor. ORF2 and ORF3 are contained within the subgenomic RNA region and encode the capsid proteins (VP1 and VP2, respectively) (Figure 1). Recently, we have identified that additional ORF4 overlapping ORF2 but in a different reading frame is functional and encodes for a mitochondrial localised virulence factor (VF1) (8).Replication for positive sense RNA viruses, including noroviruses, takes place in the cytoplasm resulting in the synthesis of new uncapped RNA genomes. To promote viral translation, viruses exploit different strategies aimed at recruiting the cellular protein synthesis machinery (9-11). Interestingly, norovirus translation is driven by the multifunctional viral protein-primer VPg covalently linked to the 5' end of both genomic and subgenomic RNAs (12-14). This sophisticated mechanism of translation is likely to be a major factor in the limited efficiency of viral recovery by conventional reverse genetics approaches.Here we report two different strategies based on the generation of murine norovirus-1 (referred to as MNV herewith) transcripts capped at the 5' end. One of the methods involves both in vitro synthesis and capping of viral RNA, whereas the second approach entails the transcription of MNV cDNA in cells expressing T7 RNA polymerase. The availability of these reverse genetics systems for the study of MNV and a small animal model has provided an unprecedented ability to dissect the role of viral sequences in replication and pathogenesis (15-17).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number64
Pages (from-to)e4145
ISSN1940-087X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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