Caister Academic Press

Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus

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from Animal Viruses: Molecular Biology
Encarnacion Martinez-Salas, Margarita Saiz and Francisco Sobrino

Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is the prototypic member of the Aphthovirus genus in the Picornaviridae family. This picornavirus is the etiological agent of an acute systemic vesicular disease that affects cattle worldwide. Here we have addressed several aspects dealing with the molecular biology of this highly variable and transmissible virus that are relevant to understand the viral infectious cycle. Particular emphasis has been given to the peculiarities of its genome organization, as well as its control of gene expression. Soon after infection, the single stranded positive RNA that constitutes the viral genome is efficiently translated using a cap-independent mechanism driven by the internal ribosome entry site element (IRES). This process occurs concomitantly with the inhibition of cellular protein synthesis, caused by the expression of viral proteases. Processing of the viral polyprotein is achieved cotranslationally by viral encoded proteases, giving rise to the different mature viral proteins. Viral RNA as well as viral proteins interact with different components of the host cell, acting as key determinants of viral pathogenesis. In depth knowledge of the molecular basis of the viral cycle is needed to control viral pathogenesis and disease spreading.

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