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Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus-encoded ovarian tumor protease activity is dispensable for virus RNA polymerase function.

ABSTRACT: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is a tick-borne virus (genus Nairovirus, family Bunyaviridae) associated with high case fatality disease outbreaks in regions of Africa, Europe, and Asia. The CCHFV genome consists of three negative-strand RNA segments, S, M, and L. The unusually large virus L polymerase protein and the need for biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) containment conditions for work with infectious virus have hampered the study of CCHFV replication. The L protein has an ovarian tumor (OTU) protease domain located in the N terminus, which has led to speculation that the protein may be autoproteolytically cleaved to generate the active virus L polymerase and additional functions. We report the successful development of efficient CCHFV helper virus-independent S, M, and L segment minigenome systems for analysis of virus RNA and protein features involved in replication. The virus RNA segment S, M, and L untranslated regions were found to be similar in support of replication of the respective minigenomes. In addition, the OTU domain located in the N terminus of the expressed virus L protein was shown to be a functional protease. However, no evidence of L protein autoproteolytic processing was found, and the OTU protease activity was dispensable for virus RNA replication. Finally, physiologically relevant doses of ribavirin inhibited CCHFV minigenome replication. These results demonstrated the utility of the minigenome system for use in BSL-2 laboratory settings to analyze CCHFV biology and in antiviral drug discovery programs for this important public health and bioterrorism threat.

SUBMITTER: Bergeron E 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2798392 | BioStudies | 2010-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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