Biochemical Aspects of Reovirus Transcription and Translation

  • Aaron J. Shatkin
  • Marilyn Kozak
Part of the The Viruses book series (VIRS)


It should be evident from Chapter 2 that reoviruses provide an excellent system for studying transcription and translation at the molecular level. Reoviruses replicate rapidly to high titers in a variety of tissue-culture cells. Progeny virions remain cell-associated and are readily isolated in yields of 10 mg/109 cells or higher. Purified reoviruses contain several stable enzymes including RNA polymerase and messenger (mRNA) capping activities. Consequently, under appropriate incubation conditions, they produce full-length transcripts of one strand of each of the ten segments of genome duplex RNA. Transcription in vitro continues for long periods, resulting in the accumulation of milligram amounts of ten different viral mRNA species. Reovirus mRNAs synthesized in the presence of the methyl donor S-adenosyl-L-methionine contain 5′-terminal m7G(5′)ppp(5′)N, a structure identical to the “cap” found in most eukaryotic cellular and viral mRNAs. Viral mRNAs made in vitro and denatured genome RNAs can be translated into authentic viral polypeptides in cell-free protein-synthesizing systems, providing coding assignments for the genome segments. Reovirus genetics is also especially powerful because three distinct virus serotypes are available and the frequency of genome-segment reassortment is high. These and other properties of reoviruses have facilitated studies of viral mRNA formation and function that have provided new insights into some general features of eukaryotic genetic expression.


Wheat Germ mRNA Synthesis Viral mRNA Viral Core Primary Translation Product 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron J. Shatkin
    • 1
  • Marilyn Kozak
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cell BiologyRoche Institute of Molecular BiologyNutleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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