The Molecular Biology of Pestiviruses
Pestiviruses are among the economically most important pathogens of livestock. The biology of these viruses is characterized by unique and interesting features that are both crucial for their success as pathogens and challenging from a scientific point of view. Elucidation of these features at the molecular level has made striking progress during recent years. The analyses revealed that major aspects of pestivirus biology show significant similarity to the biology of human hepatitis C virus (HCV). The detailed molecular analyses conducted for pestiviruses and HCV supported and complemented each other during the last three decades resulting in elucidation of the functions of viral proteins and RNA elements in replication and virus–host interaction. For pestiviruses, the analyses also helped to shed light on the molecular basis of persistent infection, a special strategy these viruses have evolved to be maintained within their host population. The results of these investigations are summarized in this chapter.