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Frey, Tiffany R.; Lehmann, Michael H.; Ryan, Colton M.; Pizzorno, Marie C.; Sutter, Gerd ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6143-082X and Hersperger, Adam R. (2017): Ectromelia virus accumulates less double-stranded RNA compared to vaccinia virus in BS-C-1 cells. In: Virology, Vol. 509: pp. 98-111

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Most orthopoxviruses, including vaccinia virus (VACV), contain genes in the E3L and K3L families. The protein products of these genes have been shown to combat PKR, a host defense pathway. Interestingly, ectromelia virus (ECTV) contains an E3L ortholog but does not possess an intact K3L gene. Here, we gained insight into how ECTV can still efficiently evade PKR despite lacking K3L. Relative to VACV, we found that ECTV-infected BS-C-1 cells accumulated considerably less double-stranded (ds) RNA, which was due to lower mRNA levels and less transcriptional read-through of some genes by ECTV. The abundance of dsRNA in VACV-infected cells, detected using a monoclonal antibody, was able to activate the RNase L pathway at late time points post-infection. Historically, the study of transcription by orthopoxviruses has largely focused on VACV as a model. Our data suggest that there could be more to learn by studying other members of this genus.

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