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Third-party-funded project

Virus-host interactions, replication and pathogenicity of coronaviruses

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

Participating scientists:

The coronavirus genome is a positive-strand RNA of extraordinary size and complexity. It is composed of approximately 30000 nucleotides and is the largest autonomously replicating RNA. More than two-thirds of the genome is devoted to encoding proteins involved in the replication and transcription of viral RNA. The aims of our research are the identification and analysis of viral and host cell proteins required to establish a functional replication and transcription complex. Furthermore, we are interested to identify and analyse viral and host cell proteins that determine coronavirus host specificity, tropism and pathogenicity. In order to analyse these processes, we have established a reverse genetic system for coronaviruses. This system is based upon cloning and propagation of full-length human coronavirus cDNA that can be used as template to produce infectious in vitro transcripts. Transfection of these transcripts into susceptible eukaryotic cells resulted in the recovery of recombinant human coronaviruses. We have expanded the use of our reverse genetic system to the generation of recombinant avian infectious bronchitis virus, a highly infectious pathogen of domestic fowl. Thus, the reverse genetic system we have have developed will find wide application in the analysis of the molecular biology and pathogenesis of coronaviruses. In addition, it provides a starting point for the development of a new class of eukaryotic RNA vectors that are able to express several heterologous proteins simultaneously.

Key words:
    reverse genetics

Projekt period: from 01.1997 to 12.2003

Funding institution:

Preceding project:
Coronavirus Genexpression, TP B1, SFB165