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

Variant effects of non-native kissing-loop hairpin palindromes on HIV replication and HIV RNA dimerization: role of stem-loop B in HIV replication and HIV RNA dimerization.

The genome of all retroviruses consists of two identical RNAs noncovalently linked near their 5' end. In vitro synthesized RNAs from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) can form loose or tight dimers depending on whether their respective kissing-loop hairpins (nts 248-270 in HIV-1Lai) bond via their hexameric autocomplementary sequences (ACS), also called palindromes, or via the ACS and stem sequences [Laughrea, M., and Jetté, L. (1996) Biochemistry 35, 1589-1598]. To understand the role of the ACS in HIV-1 replication and in the formation and stability of HIV-1 RNA dimers, we replaced the central CGCG261(or tetramer) of the HIV-1Lai ACS by two other HIV-1 tetramers (UGCA/UGCG), four non-HIV-1 tetramers [GUAC, UUAA (respectively found in HIV-2Rod and SIVmnd), GGCC and AGCU (absent from HIV and SIV viruses)], or GGCG, a nonpalindromic tetramer. The infectivity of GGCC, GUAC, and UGCA viruses was unchanged or insignificantly decreased; the infectivity of AGCU and UGCG viruses was decreased by 80%; the infectivity of UUAA and GGCG viruses was decreased by 92-98%. Thus, the four non-HIV-1 palindromes yielded phenotypes ranging from wild-type to as defective as a virus bearing a nonpalindrome. Studies of in vitro synthesized HIV-1 RNAs were generally consistent with in vivo results, specifically: (i) loose dimerization of GGCC and GUAC RNAs, but not of UUAA and AGCU RNAs, was influenced by the 3' DLS (a sequence located downstream of the 5' splice junction) in a way expected for a wild-type ACS; (ii) the 3' DLS strongly reduced tight dimerization of UUAA and AGCU RNAs, but not of GGCC and GUAC RNAs. We conclude that HIV-1 is sensitive to the ACS sequence without discriminating against all nonnative ACS: GGCC/GUAC, but not AGCU/UUAA, are good substitutes for the prevalent CGCG/UGCA native tetramers and better substitutes than the very rare UGCG native tetramer. The correlation between in vivo and in vitro results suggests that in vitro assays measure parameters of in vivo relevance. Deletion of CUCGG247 (the 5' strand of stem-loop B) decreased the replicative capacity by more than 99.9% and metamorphosed the 3' DLS into an inhibitor of the loose dimerization of HIV-1 RNA.[1]


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