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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Sequence and secondary structure analysis of the 5'-terminal region of flavivirus genome RNA.

The 5'-terminal noncoding region sequences were determined for the genome RNAs of seven strains of St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) and one strain of West Nile virus (WNV) using a single synthetic cDNA primer complementary to the 5'-terminus of the coding region of a strain of WNV RNA. The 5'-terminal sequences obtained for the SLEV and WNV RNAs were compared with published sequences for yellow fever virus (YFV), Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV), and dengue virus. While only short regions within the 5'-noncoding sequence were conserved among different flavivirus RNAs, significant homology was observed in this region among members of the same flavivirus subgroup and almost complete conservation was observed between different strains of the same virus. For example, seven strains of SLE, isolated from different geographic locations over a 17-year period and differing in their neurovirulence phenotype, contained only two to four nucleotide changes in the 5'-noncoding region. Interestingly, each of three low-virulence strains shared the same unique base substitution at position 16. Secondary structures predicted to be formed by the 5'-termini of each of the different flavivirus genome RNAs were of similar size and shape, in each case consisting of a stem with a small top loop and a larger side loop. The prediction of a common structure among a number of different flaviviruses, despite the lack of extensive sequence homology, suggests that this secondary structure is functionally important. An additional stem and loop structure is predicted to be formed in the region spanning the translation initiation codon. This structure showed significantly less conservation of size and shape than the 5'-terminal secondary structure.[1]


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