Analyses of the mRNA transcription processes of viruses in four genera ( and ) of the family have revealed a common mechanism of initiation using host-derived primers, known as cap-snatching. To provide similar information on the fifth genus in the family, the 5′ ends of Dugbe nairovirus S mRNA species were specifically cloned and sequenced. This revealed the presence of non-viral heterogeneous sequences, five to 16 nucleotides in length (average of 10 nucleotides) at the 5′ ends, confirming that cap-snatching to prime mRNA synthesis is a familial characteristic of the . Inspection of the sequences in the primers on nairovirus, bunyavirus and phlebovirus mRNAs suggests that in some cases polymerase slippage occurs shortly after initiation, resulting in a partial reiteration of the 5′-terminal nucleotides of the viral RNA.


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