Viruses with negative-strand RNA genomes (NSVs) include many highly pathogenic and economically devastating disease-causing agents of humans, livestock, and plants—highlighted by recent Ebola and measles virus epidemics, and continuously circulating influenza virus. Because of their protein-coding orientation, NSVs face unique challenges for efficient gene expression and genome replication. To overcome these barriers, NSVs deliver a large and multifunctional RNA-dependent RNA polymerase into infected host cells. NSV-encoded polymerases contain all the enzymatic activities required for transcription and replication of their genome—including RNA synthesis and mRNA capping. Here, we review the structures and functions of NSV polymerases with a focus on key domains responsible for viral replication and gene expression. We highlight shared and unique features among polymerases of NSVs from the Mononegavirales, Bunyavirales, and Articulavirales orders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViral Replication Enzymes and their Inhibitors Part B
EditorsCraig E. Cameron, Jamie J. Arnold, Laurie S. Kaguni
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages58
ISBN (Print)9780323900164
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1874-6047


  • Cap methylation
  • Cap snatching
  • Influenza virus
  • La Crosse virus
  • Negative-strand RNA virus
  • Priming loop
  • RNA-dependent RNA polymerase
  • Ribonucleoprotein
  • Vesicular stomatitis virus
  • mRNA capping


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