The 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of bamboo mosaic potexvirus (BaMV) genomic RNA was found to fold into a series of stem-loop structures including a pseudoknot structure. These structures were demonstrated to be important for viral RNA replication and were believed to be recognized by the replicase (C.-P. Cheng and C.-H. Tsai, J. Mol. Biol. 288:555–565, 1999). Electrophoretic mobility shift and competition assays have now been used to demonstrate that the Escherichia coli-expressed RNA-dependent RNA polymerase domain (Δ893) derived from BaMV open reading frame 1 could specifically bind to the 3′ UTR of BaMV RNA. No competition was observed when bovine liver tRNAs or poly(I)(C) double-stranded homopolymers were used as competitors, and the cucumber mosaic virus 3′ UTR was a less efficient competitor. Competition analysis with different regions of the BaMV 3′ UTR showed that Δ893 binds to at least two independent RNA binding sites, stem-loop D and the poly(A) tail. Footprinting analysis revealed that Δ893 could protect the sequences at loop D containing the potexviral conserved hexamer motif and part of the stem of domain D from chemical cleavage
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