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J Virol. Nov 1991; 65(11): 5886–5894.
PMCID: PMC250251

Structural and functional analysis of the ribosome landing pad of poliovirus type 2: in vivo translation studies.

Abstract

The naturally uncapped genomic and mRNAs of poliovirus initiate translation by an internal ribosome-binding mechanism. The mRNA 5' untranslated region (UTR) of poliovirus is approximately 750 nucleotides in length and has seven to eight (depending on the serotype) AUG codons upstream of the initiator AUG. The sequence required for internal ribosome binding has been termed the ribosome landing pad (RLP). To better understand the mechanisms of internal initiation, we have determined the boundaries and critical elements of the RLP of poliovirus type 2 (Lansing strain) in vivo. By using deletion analysis, we demonstrate the existence of a core RLP in the poliovirus mRNA 5' UTR whose boundaries are between nucleotides 134 and 155 at the 5' end and nucleotides 556 and 585 at the 3' end. Sequences flanking the core RLP affect translational activity. The importance of several stem-loop structures in the RLP for internal initiation has been determined. Mutation of the phylogenetically conserved loop sequences in the proximal stem-loop structure of the RLP (stem-loop structure III; nucleotides 127 to 165) abolished internal translation. However, deletion of the second stem-loop in the RLP (stem-loop structure IV; nucleotides 189 to 223) reduced internal translation by only 50%. Internal deletions encompassing nucleotides 240 to 300, 350 to 380, or 450 to 480, predicted to disrupt stem-loop structure V and possibly VI, also abrogated internal initiation. Small point mutations within a short polypyrimidine sequence, highly conserved among all picornaviruses, abolished translation. A conservation of distance between the conserved polypyrimidine tract and a downstream AUG could play an important role in the mechanism of internal initiation.

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