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RNA. 2001 Feb;7(2):266-74.

A tertiary structure model of the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) for methionine-independent initiation of translation.

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  • 1National Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Cricket paralysis-like viruses have a dicistronic positive-strand RNA genome. These viruses produce capsid proteins through internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-mediated translation. The IRES element of one of these viruses, Plautia stall intestine virus (PSIV), forms a pseudoknot immediately upstream from the capsid coding sequence, and initiates translation from other than methionine. Previously, we estimated that the IRES element of PSIV consists of seven stem-loops using the program MFOLD; however, experimental evidence of the predicted structures was not shown, except for stem-loop VI, which was responsible for formation of the pseudoknot. To determine the whole structure of the PSIV-IRES element, we introduced compensatory mutations into the upstream MFOLD-predicted helical segments. Mutation analysis showed that stem-loop V exists as predicted, but stem-loop IV is shorter than predicted. The structure of stem-loop III is different from predicted, and stem-loops I and II are not necessary for IRES activity. In addition, we identified two new pseudoknots in the IRES element of PSIV. The complementary sequence segments that are responsible for formation of the two pseudoknots are also observed in cricket paralysis virus (CrPV) and CrPV-like viruses such as Drosophila C virus (DCV), Rhopalosiphum padi virus (RhPV), himetobi P virus (HiPV), Triatoma virus (TrV), and black queen-cell virus (BQCV), although each sequence is distinct in each virus. Considering the three pseudoknots, we constructed a tertiary structure model of the PSIV-IRES element. This structural model is applicable to other CrPV-like viruses, indicating that other CrPV-like viruses can also initiate translation from other than methionine.

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