RNA editing

Note: The canonic definition of editing implies a post-transcriptional event, but in virology this term is also used for polymerase slippage.

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Some viruses encode genes that express multiple proteins by using overlapping open reading frames (ORFs) through a process known as RNA editing. In these viruses, the RNA polymerase reads the same template base more than once, creating insertions (0, 1, 2, etc, base insertions), leading to different mRNAs, thereby generating different types of proteins.


Editing of genomic template would be disastrous, therefore this happens only during transcription in negative stranded RNA viruses.

co-transcriptional editing, Negative stranded RNA virus

Genus Virus Major insertions Protein % Upstream sequence Position Reference
Respirovirus BPIV3 1 to 6 Gs P / V / D 33-33-33 AGGGAAUUAAAAAAGGG 707-723
Respirovirus hPIV3 1 to 6 Gs P / V / D 33-33-33 AAAGAAUUAAAAAAGGG 707-723
Henipavirus Nipah virus 1 G P / V / W 50-25-25 AGGGAAUUAAAAAAGGG 707-723
Respirovirus Sendai virus 1 G P / V / W 70-25-5 GACUCAACAAAAAAGGG 934-950
Morbilivirus Measles virus 1 G P / V / W 60-35-5 ACACCCAUUAAAAAGGG 676-692
Morbilivirus Phocine distemper virus 1 G P / V / W - GAACCCAUUAAAAAGGG 676-692
Morbilivirus Rinderpest virus 1 G P / V / W - AAACCCAUUAAAAAGGG 676-692
Morbilivirus Canine distemper virus 1 G P / V / W - GGAUCCAUUAAAAAGGG 675-691
Morbilivirus Dolphin morbillivirus 1 G P / V / W - AAAUCCAUUAAAAAGGG 676-692
Rubulavirus Simian virus 5 2 G V / P - CAUCGAUUUUAAGAGGG 474-490
Rubulavirus Mumps virus 2 G V / P - AACAGAAUUUAAGAGGG 447-463
Rubulavirus Parainfluenza virus type 4 2 G V / P - CAGGAUAUUUAAGAGGG 441-457 -
Rubulavirus La piedad, Michoacan virus 2 G V / P - AGCAGUUUUAAAAAGGG 486-502
Rubulavirus Parainfluenza virus type 2 2 G V / P - CCCCAACUUUAAGAGGG 470-486
Ebolavirus Ebolavirus 1 A sGP / GP / ssGP - GACCCUUUGAUUUUUUU 870-886


co-transcriptional editing, Positive stranded RNA virus

Genus Virus Major insertions Protein % Upstream sequence Position Reference
Potyvirus Turnip mosaic virus 1 A P3 / P3N-PIPO 98-2 CUCCAUUUUGGAAAAAA 2954
Potyvirus Plum Pox Virus 1 A P3 / P3N-PIPO 98.4-1.6 ......GUGGAAAAAA 2913
Potyvirus Sweet potato feathery mottle virus 1 A P1 / P1N-PISPO 88.2/11.8 .......AUGGAAAAAA 1389
Potyvirus Sweet potato feathery mottle virus +1 A or -1 A P3 / P3N-PIPO 98.2/1.2 or 0.6 UGAGCUUAUGGAAAAAA 3955