De novo generation of a non-segmented negative strand RNA virus with a bicistronic gene

Olivier Touzelet, N. Loukili, T. Pelet, Derek Fairley, Joseph Curran, Ultan Power

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Reverse genetics has facilitated the use of non-segmented negative strand RNA viruses (NNSV) as vectors. Currently, heterologous gene expression necessitates insertion of extra-numeral transcription units (ENTUs), which may alter the NNSV polar transcription gradient and attenuate growth relative to wildtype (Wt). We hypothesized that rescuing recombinant Sendai Virus (rSeV) with a bicistronic gene might circumvent this attenuation but still allow heterologous open reading frame (ORF) expression. Therefore, we used a 9-nucleotide sequence previously described with internal ribosome entry site (IRES) activity, which, when constructed as several repeats, synergistically increased the level of expression of the second cistron [Chappell, S.A., Edelman, G.M., Mauro, V.P., 2000. A 9-nt segment of a cellular mRNA can function as an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) and when present in linked multiple copies greatly enhances IRES activity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 1536-1541]. We inserted the Renilla luciferase (rLuc) ORF, preceded by 1, 3 or 7 IRES copies, downstream of the SeV N ORF in an infectious clone. Corresponding rSeVs were successfully rescued. Interestingly, bicistronic rSeVs grew as fast as or faster than Wt rSeV. Furthermore, SeV gene transcription downstream of the N/rLuc gene was either equivalent to, or slightly enhanced, compared to Wt rSeV. Importantly, all rSeV/rLuc viruses efficiently expressed rLuc. IRES repetition increased rLuc expression at a multiplicity of infection of 0.1, although without evidence of synergistic enhancement. In conclusion, our approach provides a novel way of insertion and expression of foreign genes in NNSVs. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1-2
Early online date30 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • sendai virus
  • internal ribosome entry site
  • virus vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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