The nucleotide sequences of the large (L) genes of ten measles virus (MV) strains were determined. These strains included the Moraten and Rubeovax vaccine strains and their Edmonston wild-type (wt) progenitor, two additional vaccine strains and five genotypically divergent wt isolates. The nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequences were compared with six previously sequenced L genes and the number and location of variable amino acid positions were characterized. The recent wt isolates demonstrated the greatest amount of variability found to date in the highly conserved L protein. Three full-length wt L proteins were expressed in mammalian cells and their ability to form a complex with the MV phosphoprotein was demonstrated. While no set of amino acid substitutions associated consistently with wt or vaccine strains was identified, these data will provide a basis for the analysis of the activity of L proteins from vaccine and wt viruses in a functional assay.


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