VPg is a protein that is covalently attached to the 5′ end of positive strand viral RNA and acts as a primer during RNA synthesis in a variety of virus families including Picornaviridae, Potyviridae and Caliciviridae. There are some studies showing that a possible VPg protein is also present in astroviridae, however, experimental evidence for this has not yet been provided and requires further study. The primer activity of VPg occurs when the protein becomes uridylated, providing a free hydroxyl that can be extended by the virally encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. For some virus families, VPg also has a role in translation initiation by acting like a 5' mRNA cap.
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