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Open AccessArticle

A Phylogenetic Survey on the Structure of the HIV-1 Leader RNA Domain That Encodes the Splice Donor Signal

Laboratory of Experimental Virology, Department of Medical Microbiology, Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Academic Editors: Roland Marquet and Polly Roy
Viruses 2016, 8(7), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/v8070200
Received: 23 May 2016 / Revised: 29 June 2016 / Accepted: 1 July 2016 / Published: 21 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Packaging)
RNA splicing is a critical step in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication cycle because it controls the expression of the complex viral proteome. The major 5′ splice site (5′ss) that is positioned in the untranslated leader of the HIV-1 RNA transcript is of particular interest because it is used for the production of the more than 40 differentially spliced subgenomic mRNAs. HIV-1 splicing needs to be balanced tightly to ensure the proper levels of all viral proteins, including the Gag-Pol proteins that are translated from the unspliced RNA. We previously presented evidence that the major 5′ss is regulated by a repressive local RNA structure, the splice donor (SD) hairpin, that masks the 11 nucleotides (nts) of the 5′ss signal for recognition by U1 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) of the spliceosome machinery. A strikingly different multiple-hairpin RNA conformation was recently proposed for this part of the HIV-1 leader RNA. We therefore inspected the sequence of natural HIV-1 isolates in search for support, in the form of base pair (bp) co-variations, for the different RNA conformations. View Full-Text
Keywords: HIV-1 RNA; splicing regulation; repressive RNA structure; alternative RNA conformations; untranslated leader RNA HIV-1 RNA; splicing regulation; repressive RNA structure; alternative RNA conformations; untranslated leader RNA
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Mueller, N.; Das, A.T.; Berkhout, B. A Phylogenetic Survey on the Structure of the HIV-1 Leader RNA Domain That Encodes the Splice Donor Signal. Viruses 2016, 8, 200.

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