The completed sequence of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus reveals a unique RNA structure and a gene for a zinc finger protein

Virology. 1989 Nov;173(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/0042-6822(89)90216-x.


The arenavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) has a single-stranded RNA genome composed of a large (L) and a small (S) RNA segment. The completed sequence of LCMV, presented here, reveals a formerly unknown gene (Z) on the L genomic segment. This gene is encoded in the positive or message-sense of the viral genomic RNA, whereas the adjacent gene (L) is in the genome-complementary, or negative sense. The ambisense polarity of the genes on the L RNA reiterates the polarity of genes on the small (S) genomic segment. The Z gene encodes a 10-kDa protein containing a single zinc-finger sequence (Cys2His2). A small RNA representing the message sense of the Z gene is found in infected cells and within virions. In contrast to the known LCMV proteins having structural or enzymatic functions, the predicted Z gene product is most likely to be an RNA-binding protein with a regulatory role. The encapsidation of a message sense Z RNA suggests a role for this gene immediately following virus penetration. The L/Z intergenic region is rich in cytidylic acid (C) and presents an unusual RNA structure. All cDNA clones of the intergenic region differ from each other within a certain poly(C) stretch and lack a 30-base region present in the direct RNA sequence. Finally, the completed sequence establishes that the L RNA 5' end is complementary to its 3' end. The L RNA termini, similar to the S RNA termini, have a small but potentially important asymmetry of sequence. LCMV is the first arenavirus to be completely sequenced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Autoradiography
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Northern
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Amplification
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral*
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / genetics*
  • Metalloproteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Software
  • Temperature
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Metalloproteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Zinc

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M27693