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

An internal ribosomal entry signal in the rat VL30 region of the Harvey murine sarcoma virus leader and its use in dicistronic retroviral vectors.

The genetic organization of the 5' genomic RNA domain of the highly oncogenic Harvey murine sarcoma virus appears to be unusual in that a multifunctional untranslated leader precedes the v-ras oncogene. This 5' leader is 1,076 nucleotides in length and is formed of independent regions involved in key steps of the viral life cycle: (i) the Moloney murine leukemia virus 5' repeat, untranslated 5' region, and primer binding site sequences necessary for the first steps of proviral DNA synthesis, (ii) the virus-like 30S (VL30)-derived sequence containing a functional dimerization-packaging signal (E/DLS) directing viral RNA dimerization and packaging into MLV virions, and (iii) an Alu-like sequence preceding the 5' untranslated sequence of v-rasH which contains the initiation codon of the p21ras oncoprotein. These functional features, the unusual length of this leader (1,076 nucleotides), and the presence of stable secondary structures between the cap and the v-ras initiation codon might well cause a premature stop of the scanning ribosomes and thus inhibit v-ras translation. In order to understand how Harvey murine sarcoma virus achieves a high level of expression of the ras oncogene, we asked whether the rat VL30 sequence, 5' to v-ras, could contribute to an efficient synthesis of the ras oncoprotein. The implications of the VL30 sequence in the translation initiation of Ha-ras were investigated in the rabbit reticulocyte lysate system and in murine cells. Results show that the rat VL30 sequence allows a cap-independent translation of a downstream reporter gene both in vitro and in murine cells. Additional experiments performed with dicistronic neo.VL30.lacZ mRNAs indicate that the 5' VL30 sequence (positions 380 to 794) contains an internal ribosomal entry signal. This finding led us to construct a new dicistronic retroviral vector with which the rat VL30 sequence was able to direct the efficient expression of a 3' cistron and packaging of recombinant dicistronic RNA into murine leukemia virus virions.[1]


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