Molecular Biology of Astroviruses: Selected Highlights

  1. Derek Chadwick and
  2. Jamie A. Goode
  1. Suzanne M. Matsui,
  2. David Kiang,
  3. Nancy Ginzton,
  4. Teri Chew and
  5. Ute Geigenmüller-Gnirke

Published Online: 7 OCT 2008

DOI: 10.1002/0470846534.ch13

Gastroenteritis Viruses: Novartis Foundation Symposium 238

Gastroenteritis Viruses: Novartis Foundation Symposium 238

How to Cite

Matsui, S. M., Kiang, D., Ginzton, N., Chew, T. and Geigenmüller-Gnirke, U. (2001) Molecular Biology of Astroviruses: Selected Highlights, in Gastroenteritis Viruses: Novartis Foundation Symposium 238 (eds D. Chadwick and J. A. Goode), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/0470846534.ch13

Author Information

  1. Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 7 OCT 2008
  2. Published Print: 16 MAY 2001

Book Series:

  1. Novartis Foundation Symposia

Book Series Editors:

  1. Novartis Foundation

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471496632

Online ISBN: 9780470846537



  • astrovirus;
  • gastroenteritis;
  • virus;
  • capsid;
  • viral particle;
  • ORF1a;
  • cryoelectron microscopy;
  • genome;
  • organization;
  • infectivity


Human astrovirus, the prototype of the Astroviridae family, is a non-enveloped positive-strand RNA virus with distinctive morphology. Initially named for a characteristic 5–6 point star evident on the surface of faecally shed viral particles by direct electron microscopy, a recent study using cryoelectron microscopy and image reconstruction indicates that viral particles consist of a smoothly rippled, solid capsid decorated with short spikes. Mechanisms underlying the assembly of these viral particles have not been fully elucidated. However, studies of two full-length cDNA clones of human astrovirus serotype 1 suggest that capsid residue Thr227 plays a critical role in the assembly of infectious viral progeny. The development of a full-length clone (pAVIC) from which infectious RNA can be transcribed has also facilitated studies of the viral 3C-like serine protease, encoded in ORF1a. These studies demonstrate that the full-length ORF1a product (101 kDa) is processed in vitro to an N-terminal 64 kDa fragment and a C-terminal 38 kDa fragment. Mutation of the predicted catalytic triad inhibits proteolysis. In other studies based on modifications of pAVIC, preliminary evidence supports the feasibility of developing a reporter cell line to facilitate astrovirus detection.