Rabies virus belongs to the order Mononegavirales, viruses with a nonsegmented, negative-stranded RNA genomes. Within this group, viruses with a distinct "bullet" shape are classified in the Rhabdoviridae family, which includes at least three genera of animal viruses, Lyssavirus, Ephemerovirus, and Vesiculovirus. The genus Lyssavirus includes rabies virus, Lagos bat, Mokola virus, Duvenhage virus, European bat virus 1 & 2 and Australian bat virus.
Rabies virions are bullet-shaped with 10-nm spike-like glycoprotein peplomers covering the surface. The ribonucleoprotein is composed of RNA encased in nucleoprotein -(), phosphorylated or phosphoprotein -Illistration of virus, and polymerase -virus.
Rhabdoviruses are approximately 180 nm long and 75 nm wide. The rabies genome encodes five proteins: nucleoprotein (N), phosphoprotein (P), matrix protein (M), glycoprotein (G) and polymerase (L). All rhabdoviruses have two major structural components: a helical ribonucleoprotein core (RNP) and a surrounding envelope. In the RNP, genomic RNA is tightly encased by the nucleoprotein. Two other viral proteins, the phospoprotein and the large protein (L-protein or polymerase) are associated with the RNP. The glycoprotein forms approximately 400 trimeric spikes which are tightly arranged on the surface of the virus. The M protein is associated both with the envelope and the RNP and may be the central protein of rhabdovirus assembly. The basic structure and composition of rabies virus is depicted in the longitudinal diagram below.
The cross-sectional diagram demonstrates the concentric layers: envelope membrane bilayer, M protein, and tightly coiled encased genomic RNA.
Rabies is an RNA virus. The genome encodes 5 proteins designated as N, P, M, G, and L. The order and relative size of the genes in the genome are shown in the figure below. The arrangement of these proteins and the RNA genome determine the structure of the rabies virus.
The rabies virus genome is single-stranded, antisense, nonsegmented, RNA of approximately 12 kb. There is a leader-sequence (LDR) of approximately 50 nucleotides, followed by N, P, M, G, and L genes.
The fusion of the rabies virus envelope to the host cell membrane (adsorption) initiates the infection process. The interaction of the G protein and specific cell surface receptors may be involved. After adsorption, the virus penetrates the host cell and enters the cytoplasm by pinocytosis (via clathrin-coated pits). The virions aggregate in the large endosomes (cytoplasmic vesicles). The viral membranes fuse to the endosomal membranes, causing the release of viral RNP into the cytoplasm (uncoating). Because lyssaviruses have a linear single-negative-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) genome, messenger RNAs (mRNAs) must be transcribed to permit virus replication.
1: Adsorption (receptors and virion interation). 2: Penetration (virus entry). 3: Uncoating (envelope removal). 4. Transcription (synthesis of mRNAs). 5. Translation (Synthesis of structural proteins). 6. Processing (G-protein gycosylation). 7. Replication (production of genomic RNA from intermediate strand. 8. Assembly. 9: Budding (complete virions).
A viral-encoded polymerase (L gene) transcribes the genomic strand of rabies RNA into