The causative agent of white spot syndrome (WSS) is a large double-stranded DNA virus, WSSV, which is probably a representative of a new genus, provisionally called Whispovirus. From previously constructed WSSV genomic libraries of a Taiwan WSSV isolate, clones with open reading frames (ORFs) that encode proteins with significant homology to the class I ribonucleotide reductase large (RR1) and small (RR2) subunits were identified. WSSV rr1 and rr2 potentially encode 848 and 413 amino acids, respectively. RNA was isolated from WSSV-infected shrimp at different times after infection and Northern blot analysis with rr1- and rr2-specific riboprobes found major transcripts of 2.8 and 1.4 kb, respectively. 5' RACE showed that the major rr1 transcript started at a position of -84 (C) relative to the ATG translational start, while transcription of the rr2 gene started at nucleotide residue -68 (T). A consensus motif containing the transcriptional start sites for rr1 and rr2 was observed (TCAc/tTC). Northern blotting and RT-PCR showed that the transcription of rr1 and rr2 started 4-6 h after infection and continued for at least 60 h. The rr1 and rr2 genes thus appear to be WSSV 'early genes'. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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