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Impact of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 RNA Dimerization on Viral Infectivity and of Stem-Loop B on RNA Dimerization and Reverse Transcription and Dissociation of Dimerization from Packaging

  • Ni Shen
  • Louis Jetté
  • Chen Liang
  • Mark A. Wainberg
  • Michael Laughrea
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2000
  • Biology


The kissing-loop domain (KLD) encompasses a stem-loop, named kissing-loop or dimerization initiation site (DIS) hairpin (nucleotides [nt] 248 to 270 in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 strains HIV-1Lai and HIV-1Hxb2), seated on top of a 12-nt stem-internal loop called stem-loop B (nt 243 to 247 and 271 to 277). Destroying stem-loop B reduced genome dimerization by ∼50% and proviral DNA synthesis by ∼85% and left unchanged the dissociation temperature of dimeric genomic RNA. The most affected step of reverse transcription was plus-strand DNA transfer, which was reduced by ∼80%. Deleting nt 241 to 256 or 200 to 256 did not reduce genome dimerization significantly more than the destruction of stem-loop B or the DIS hairpin. We conclude that the KLD is nonmodular: mutations in stem-loop B and in the DIS hairpin have similar effects on genome dimerization, reverse transcription, and encapsidation and are also “nonadditive”; i.e., a larger deletion spanning both of these structures has the same effects on genome dimerization and encapsidation as if stem-loop B strongly impacted DIS hairpin function and vice versa. A C258G transversion in the palindrome of the kissing-loop reduced genome dimerization by ∼50% and viral infectivity by ∼1.4 log. Two mutations, CGCG261→UUAA261 (creating a weaker palindrome) and a Δ241–256 suppressor mutation, were each able to reduce genome dimerization but leave genome packaging unaffected.

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