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Updated: Mar 15 2015

Viral Stranding and Segmentation

  • Introduction
    • Viral nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) can be classified into
      • positive vs. negative stranded
      • segmented vs. nonsegmented
  • Positive vs. Negative Stranded
    • Positive-stranded RNA
      • is just like mRNA
      • can be read natively by the host's translational machinery to make proteins
    • Negative-stranded RNA
      • is complementary to mRNA
      • must be transcribed into a positive strand by the virus's own RNA-dependent RNA polymerase
        • this enzyme is carried in the capsid of all negative-stranded RNA viruses
    • Most DNA viruses have both a positive and negative strand
      • except parvoviruses, which are single-stranded
      • however, the meaning of "positive strand" or "negative strand" is not the same as for an RNA virus
        • positive strand is the strand that is read
        • negative strand is the strand that is ignored
    • A list of positive vs. negative stranded RNA viruses can be found in the table of RNA viruses
  • Segmented vs. Nonsegmented
    • The viral genome is sometimes found split into separate parts, a phenomenon known as segmenting
    • The segmented viruses are all RNA viruses
      • bunyaviruses
        • e.g. hantavirus
      • orthomyxoviruses
        • e.g. influenza
          • contains 8 segments that can undergo reassortment
            • contributes to flu pandemics
      • arenaviruses
        • e.g. lassa fever virus
      • reoviruses
        • e.g. rotavirus
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