Introduction. This review follows the pattern of its predecessors in being a description of various topics in virological research for which particularly noteworthy advances were published in or around 1989. As before, it is a highly selective account, which reflects the interests of the authors. The review starts with a description of a newly characterized agent of viral hepatitis, followed by two aspects of work on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The following sections then treat aspects of genome structure and genetic content, gene expression, viral protein function, virion structure and virus-cell interactions, and finish with a short section on the nature of spongiform encephalitis disease.

Hepatitis C virus. The year 1989 saw a major advance in the field of viral hepatitis with the identification of a virus responsible for a large proportion of non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANBH). It had become apparent when specific diagnostic reagents for hepatitis A virus (a picornavirus) and hepatitis B virus (a hepadnavirus) were developed that most cases of post-transfusion hepatitis were not caused by these agents or by any other known hepatotropic viruses.


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