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Vesicular stomatitis virus
TEM micrograph of VSV virions.
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Order: Mononegavirales
Family: Rhabdoviridae
Genus: Vesiculovirus
Type species
Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus

Carajas virus
Chandipura virus
Cocal virus
Isfahan virus
Maraba virus
Piry virus
Vesicular stomatitis Alagoas virus
Vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus

Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a virus in the family Rhabdoviridae; the well-known Rabies virus belongs to the same family. VSV can infect insects and mammals. It has particular importance to farmers in certain regions of the world where it can infect cattle. It is also a common laboratory virus used to study the properties of viruses in the Rhabdoviridae family, as well as to study viral evolution.

VSV is an arbovirus: natural VSV infections encompass two steps, cytolytic infections of mammalian hosts and transmission by insects. In insects, infections are non-cytolytic persistent.

Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is the prototypic member of the Vesiculovirus genera of the Rhabdovirus family. The genome of the virus is a single molecule of negative-sense RNA that encodes five major proteins: glycoprotein (G), large protein (L), phosphoprotein, matrix protein (M) and nucleoprotein.

The VSV-G protein enables viral entry. It mediates virus attachment to the host cell, where it is endocytosed. It then mediates fusion of the viral envelope with the endosomal membrane.

The VSV-L protein is encoded by half the genome, and combines with the phosphoprotein to catalyze replication of the mRNA.

The VSV-M protein is encoded by an mRNA that is 831 nucleotides long and translates to a 229 amino acid-protein. The predicted M protein sequence does not contain any long hydrophobic or nonpolar domains that might promote membrane association. The protein is rich in basic amino acids and contains a highly basic amino terminal domain.

After infection, the VSV-G gene is expressed and is commonly studied as a model for N-linked glycosylation in the endoplasmic reticulum. It is translated into the rough ER where the Glc3-Man9-GlcNac2 oligosaccharide is added by a dolichol-containing protein, to an NXS motif on VSVG. Sugars are removed gradually as the protein travels to the Golgi apparatus, and it becomes resistant to endoglycosidase H.[1]

VSV-G does not follow the same path as most vesicles because transport of the G protein from the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane is interrupted by incubation at 15°C. Under this condition, the molecules accumulate in both the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and a subcellular vesicle fraction of low density called the lipid-rich vesicle fraction. The material in the lipid-rich vesicle fraction appears to be a post-ER intermediate in the transport process to the plasma membrane (PM). When synthesized in polarized epithelial cells, the envelope glycoproteins hemagglutinin of VSV-G are targeted to the apical and basolateral plasma membranes. VSVG is also a common coat protein for lentiviral vector expression systems used to introduce genetic material into in vitro systems or animal models, mainly because of its extremely broad tropism.

VSV has oncolytic activity, leading to preferential killing of infected tumor cells [2]. Recently attenuated VSV with a mutation in its M protein has been found to have oncolytic properties. Research is ongoing, and has shown VSV to reduce tumor size and spread in melanoma, lung cancer, colon cancer and certain braintumors in laboratory models of cancer.


  1. ^ Alberts et al., 2002. Molecular biology of the cell, 4th edition.
  2. ^ Bell JC, Stojdl D; Lichty; Knowles; Marius; Atkins; Sonenberg (2000). "Exploiting tumor-specific defects in the interferon pathway with a previously unknown oncolytic virus". Nature Medicine 6 (7): 782–789. doi:10.1038/77513. PMID 10888934. Retrieved 2009-04-23.  

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