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In vitro and in vivo identification of structural and sequence elements in the 5' untranslated region of Ectropis obliqua picorna-like virus required for internal initiation.

  • Lu, Jie
  • Zhang, Jiamin
  • Wang, Xiaochun
  • Jiang, Hong
  • Liu, Chuanfeng
  • Hu, Yuanyang
Published Article
The Journal of general virology
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2006
Pt 12
PMID: 17098984


Ectropis obliqua picorna-like virus (EoPV) is a newly described insect virus that is classified as a putative member of the genus Iflavirus. The virus possesses a large, positive-sense RNA genome encoding a single polyprotein that shares physicochemical properties with those of members of the family Picornaviridae. The 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) plays an important role in picornavirus translation initiation, as it contains an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) that mediates cap-independent translation. To investigate translation in EoPV, an extensive range of mutations were engineered within the 5' UTR and the effects of these changes were examined in vitro and in vivo by using a bicistronic construct. Results showed that deletions within the first 63 nt had little impact on IRES activity, whilst core IRES function was contained within stem-loops C and D, as their removal abrogated IRES activity significantly. In contrast to these findings, removal of stem-loop G containing two cryptic AUGs caused a remarkable increase in IRES activity, which was further investigated by site-directed mutagenesis at these two positions. It was also confirmed that initiation of protein synthesis occurs at AUG6 (position 391-394) and not at the AUG immediately downstream of the polypyrimidine tract. Mutation of the polypyrimidine tract (CCTTTC) had a slight effect on EoPV IRES activity. Furthermore, mutations of the RAAA motif led to a decrease in IRES activity of approximately 40 % in vitro, but these results were not supported by in vivo experiments. In conclusion, this study reveals that the EoPV IRES element is unique, although it has features in common with the type II IRESs.

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