Positive strand RNA virus replication: It depends on the ends


Publication Type:

Journal Article


Virus Research, Volume 206, p.1-2 (2015)


Positive strand RNA viruses have played important roles in pioneering discoveries in the field of virology. In the late 1890s, the plant virus, Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and the animal virus Foot and mouth disease virus were used in the first demonstrations of disease transmissibility by a bacteria-free filtrate. Proof of serial transmission of TMV by Beijerinck in1898 represented the beginning of virological research. TMV was also the first virus to be crystalized and the one for which infectivity of the genome RNA was first demonstrated. The flavivirus, Yellow fever virus, was the first virus to be identified as the cause of a human disease. The picornavirus, Poliovirus, was the first virus to be grown in explanted mammalian cell cultures, and the Togavirus, Western equine encephalitis virus, was used to develop the first plaque assay. Progress on understanding the replication of many positive strand RNA viruses was slowed by the lack of cell culture or host model systems. However, the development and application of molecular biology techniques allowed genome sequencing and the generation of viral infectious cDNA clones that led to an explosion of new information. Many of the positive strand RNA viruses that infect humans, animals, insects and plants are pathogens, and the diseases they cause are of major medical, veterinary, agricultural, and economic importance. Pathogens discussed in this issue include:

the picornaviruses, Foot and mouth disease virus and Poliovirus, which has not yet been driven to extinction despite our best efforts;

emerging mosquito-borne viruses, including Dengue virus, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and Chikungunya virus;

the coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS, that cause severe human respiratory disease;

Hepatitis C virus, which is estimated to infect 170 million people worldwide, causing persistent infections that can lead to the development of cancer;

the caliciviruses, including norovirus (cruise ship virus), that causes gastrointestinal disease; and

economically important plant viruses, the Potyviridae and the cereal crop viruses, Barley yellow dwarf and Cereal yellow dwarf.