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A multifunctional expression vector for an anti-HIV-1 ribozyme that produces a 5'- and 3'-trimmed trans-acting ribozyme, targeted against HIV-1 RNA, and cis-acting ribozymes that are designed to bind to and thereby sequester trans-activator proteins such as Tat and Rev.

  • N Yuyama
  • J Ohkawa
  • T Koguma
  • M Shirai
  • K Taira
Publication Date
Nov 25, 1994
  • Biology
  • Design


We previously constructed a multiribozyme expression vector by combining cis- and trans-acting ribozymes and we showed that several ribozymes, each directed against a different target in the HIV genome and acting independently in a 'shotgun' manner, markedly increased the efficiency of cleavage of HIV RNA in vitro [Ohkawa et al., Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 90, 11302 (1993)]. However, the cis-acting ribozymes that had trimmed the 5' and 3' ends of each trans-acting ribozyme were designed merely to await for degradation by RNases when they were used in vivo. Since several trans-activator proteins are essential for viral replication of HIV-1, we wondered whether a decoy function could be coupled with the cleavage activity of ribozymes. We therefore introduced the TAR or the RRE sequence into the stem II region of each cis-acting ribozyme. When the activity of each resulting cis-acting ribozyme that had been endowed with the decoy function was examined in vitro, it was found to retain almost full trimming activity. Moreover, cis-acting ribozymes with either the TAR or the RRE sequence were shown to be able to trap Tat or Rev protein successfully. It is, therefore, possible to endow the stem II region with a specific protein-binding function without the loss of ribozyme function. Thus, cis-acting ribozymes, endowed with the decoy function, can first trim the 5' and 3' ends of each trans-acting ribozyme and are then still available for trapping trans-activator proteins possibly prior to their degradation by RNases when they are to be used in vivo. Furthermore, it is also expected that the reduction in production of HIV RNA that is achieved by sequestering the trans-activator proteins might provide the trans-acting ribozymes, targeted to HIV RNA, with a better chance of eliminating the remaining HIV RNA.

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