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Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) EM 18 lores.jpg
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), the prototypical rhabdovirus
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Order: Mononegavirales
Family: Rhabdoviridae

Rhabdoviruses are viruses belonging to the family Rhabdoviridae, which is in the order Mononegavirales. The name is derived from the Greek rhabdos meaning rod referring to the shape of the viral particles. Rhabdoviruses infect a broad range of hosts throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. Animal rhabdoviruses infect insects, fish, and mammals, including humans.

Virology Classification[edit]

Rhabdoviruses carry their genetic material in the form of negative-sense single-stranded RNA. They typically carry genes for five proteins: large protein (L), glycoprotein (G), nucleoprotein (N), phosphoprotein (P), and matrix protein (M). Rhabdoviruses that infect vertebrates are usually bullet-shaped.

The following genera are included here:

In addition to the above, there are a large number of rhabdoviruses (~130) that have not yet been assigned to a genus.


These viruses fall into four groups based on the RNA polymerase gene.[1] The basal clade appears to be the Novirhabdoviruses which infect fish. The Cytorhabdoviruses and the Nucleorhabdoviruses which infect plants are sister clades. The Lyssaviruses form a clade of their own which is more closely related to the land vertebrate and insect clades than to the plant viruses. The remaining viruses form a number of highly branched clades and infect arthropods and land vertebrates.


Electron micrograph of two plant rhabdovirus particles

Replication of many rhabdoviruses occurs in the cytoplasm, although several of the plant infecting viruses replicate in the nucleus. In order for replication, both the L and P protein must be expressed to regulate transcription. Transcription results in five monocistronic mRNAs being produced because the intergenic sequences act as both termination and promoter sequences for adjacent genes. During their synthesis the mRNAs are processed to introduce a 5' cap and a 3’ polyadenylated tail to each of the molecules. This structure is homologous to cellular mRNAs and can thus be translated by cellular ribosomes to produce both structural and non-structural proteins.

Genomic replication requires a source of newly synthesized N protein to encapsidate the RNA. This occurs during its synthesis and results in the production of a full length anti-genomic copy. This in turn is used to produce more negative-sense genomic RNA. The viral polymerase is required for this process, but how the polymerase engages in both mRNA synthesis and genomic replication is not well understood.

Replication characteristically occurs in an inclusion body within the cytoplasm, from where they bud through various cytoplasmic membranes and the outer membrane of the cell. This process results in the acquisition of the M + G proteins, responsible for the characteristic bullet- shaped morphology of the virus.

Prototypical Rhabdoviruses[edit]

The prototypical and best studied rhabdovirus is vesicular stomatitis virus. It is a preferred model system to study the biology of Rhabdoviruses, and Mononegavirales in general.

The mammalian disease Rabies is caused by Lyssavirus, of which several strains have been identified.

Rhabdoviruses are important pathogens of animals and plants. Rhabdoviruses are transmitted to hosts by arthropods, such as aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, black flies, sandflies, and mosquitoes.

In September 2012, researchers writing in the journal PLOS Pathogens described a species of rhabdovirus, called Bas-Congo Virus or BASV, responsible for 4 cases of viral hemorrhagic fever in the Bas-Congo district in 2009. The 2 non-fatal cases occurred in healthcare workers treating the other 2, suggesting the possibility of person-to-person transmission.[1]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Rose, J.K.; Whitt, M.A. (2001). "Rhabdoviridae: The viruses and their replication". In Knipe, D.M.; Howley, P.M. Field's Virology 1 (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 1221–44. ISBN 0781718325. 
  • Wagner, Robert R., ed. (1987). The Rhabdoviruses. Plenum Press. ISBN 978-0-306-42453-3. 


  1. ^ a b Grard G, Fair JN, Lee D, et al. (September 2012). "A novel rhabdovirus associated with acute hemorrhagic fever in central Africa". PLoS Pathog. 8 (9): e1002924. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002924. PMC 3460624. PMID 23028323. 

External links[edit]