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A Stem-Loop Motif Formed by the Immediate 5′ Terminus of the Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus Genome Modulates Translation as well as Replication of the Viral RNA

By Haiying Yu, Olaf Isken, Claus W. Grassmann and Sven-Erik Behrens


Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), a Pestivirus member of the Flaviviridae family, has a positive-stranded RNA genome which consists of a single open reading frame (ORF) and untranslated regions (UTRs) at the 5′ and 3′ ends. The 5′ UTR harbors extensive RNA structure motifs; most of them were shown to contribute to an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), which mediates cap-independent translation of the ORF. The extreme 5′-terminal region of the BVDV genome had so far been believed not to be required for IRES function. By structure probing techniques, we initially verified the existence of a computer-predicted stem-loop motif at the 5′ end of the viral genome (hairpin Ia) as well as at the 3′ end of the complementary negative-strand replication intermediate [termed hairpin Ia (−)]. While the stem of this structure is mainly constituted of nucleotides that are conserved among pestiviruses, the loop region is predominantly composed of variable residues. Taking a reverse genetics approach to a subgenomic BVDV replicon RNA (DI9c) which could be equally employed in a translation as well as replication assay system based on BHK-21 cells, we obtained the following results. (i) Proper folding of the Ia stem was found to be crucial for efficient translation. Thus, in the context of an authentic replication-competent viral RNA, the 5′-terminal motif operates apparently as an integral functional part of the ribosome entry. (ii) An intact loop structure and a stretch of nucleotide residues that constitute a portion of the stem of the Ia or the Ia (−) motif, respectively, were defined to represent important determinants of the RNA replication pathway. (iii) Formation of the stem structure of the Ia (−) motif was determined to be not critical for RNA replication. In summary, our findings affirmed that the 5′-terminal region of the BVDV genome encodes a bifunctional secondary structure motif which may enable the viral RNA to switch from the translation to the replicative cycle and vice versa

Topics: Replication
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:112077
Provided by: PubMed Central
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