The Big Picture Book of Viruses: Rhabdoviridae

Taxonomy: Synonym: Bullet-shaped virus group. Description is on the taxonomic level of family. Genera: Vesiculovirus; Lyssavirus; Ephemerovirus; Cytorhabdovirus; Nucleorhabdovirus; Unassigned viruses.

Host: Virus infects invertebrates, plants, and vertebrates.

Genome: RNA. Single stranded. Linear; genomic nucleic acid usually negative sense, or positive sense (full length up to 5% in a viral RNA population; hairpin RNA forms are also found). Genome monopartite. Total genome 11000-15000 nucleotides long. Nucleotide sequences of 3'-terminus are inverted and complementary to similar regions on the 5' end. 5' terminus has a triphosphate. 3' terminus has no poly (A) tract. Encapsidated nucleic acid solely genomic. Each virion contains full length copy, or shorter copies.

Morphology: Distinct viral structures visible in thin sections of infected tissue; virions enveloped, or not enveloped (in viruses that are considered possible species of the family); virions slightly pleomorphic; virions in unfixed preparations bullet-shaped, or bacilliform (in cases of plant viruses when fixed prior to negative staining); virions 45-100 nm in diameter; virions 100-430 nm long. Surface projections of envelope distinct; spikes (5-10 nm long and about 3 nm in diameter. They consist of trimers of the virus glycoprotein); dispersed evenly over all the surface (except for the quasiplanar end of bullet-shaped viruses. A honeycomb pattern of peplomers is observed on the surface of some viruses). Capsids filamentous (when uncoiled). Nucleocapsid consists of an RNA and N protein complex together with an NS (M1) proteins and is surrounded by a lipid envelope containing M (M2) protein. The nucleocapsid contains transcriptase activity and is infectious. Nucleocapsids with obvious regular surface structure; uncoiled about 700 nm long; uncoiled 20 nm in diameter, or 30-70 nm in diameter. Symmetry helical. Nucleocapsids cross-banded (spaced 4.5-5 nm, in negatively stained preparations and thin sections). Incomplete virus particles present (defective particles proportionally shorter). Virions only of one kind (that is a virus with defective genome, usually significantly shorter than the full length).

(Note: for more information about the taxonomy and structure of this virus, see the ICTV database below.)

More Information:
Taxonomy: ICTV Data
WWW Sites: ATV Sites!
Tutorials: ATV Tutorial

Rhabdoviridae Images:
Genus EM Images Example Virus Name Description of Image
rhabdovirus Colorized-enhanced versions of an EM photograph by George Musil, Florida; kept at website of the Institute for Molecular Virology - Wisconsin. The original photograph was taken from the "Archive of Thorben Lundsgaard, C.J. Woolston and Ed Rybicki".
rhabdovirus Viral particles seen by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) at a magnification of 48,000x on a Fish Epithelial Cell. This image is from Dennis Kunkel's excellent Microscopy Science and Photography Through a Microscope web site.
  • Vesiculovirus
  • N/A
    vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus
    vesicular stomatitis virus
  • Lyssavirus
  • Rabies
    rabies virus from Frederick A. Murphy, now at U.C. Davis.
    rabies virus With electron microscopy, rabies virion shows a 75 nm mean diameter, and a length varying between 130 and 300 nm (mean: 180 nm); spike-like projections (9 nm long) can be seen on the viral envelope.
    Rabies virions Bullet-shaped rabies virions with glycoprotein-studded envelopes. The "spikes" cover the entire envelope surface, including the quasiplanar ends of the viruses. This image is from ATV's Special Rabies page by Steven K. Vernon, of Wyeth-Ayerst Research
    Rabies virus cartoon Diagrammatic representation of the rabies virion deduced from electron microscopy and protein analyses. This image is from ATV's Special Rabies page by Steven K. Vernon, of Wyeth-Ayerst Research
    rabies virus diagram This cartoon shows the general structure and identifies the major components.
    rabies virus Negatively stained rabies virus seen by transmission electron microscopy. From the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health.
    rabies virus in a Purkinje cell In this electron micrograph of a Purkinje cell, the rabies virions appear as clusters of electron dense material on either side of the nucleus. The nucleus is just to the left of center.
  • Ephemerovirus
  • N/A
    bovine ephemeral fever virus
  • Cytorhabdovirus
  • N/A
    lettuce necrotic yellows virus
  • Nucleorhabdovirus
  • N/A
    potato yellow dwarf virus

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