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J Virol. 1992 Nov;66(11):6601-8.

Mutational analysis of the gag-pol junction of Moloney murine leukemia virus: requirements for expression of the gag-pol fusion protein.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032.


The gag-pol polyprotein of the murine and feline leukemia viruses is expressed by translational readthrough of a UAG terminator codon at the 3' end of the gag gene. To explore the cis-acting sequence requirements for the readthrough event in vivo, we generated a library of mutants of the Moloney murine leukemia virus with point mutations near the terminator codon and tested the mutant viral DNAs for the ability to direct synthesis of the gag-pol fusion protein and formation of infectious virus. The analysis showed that sequences 3' to the terminator are necessary and sufficient for the process. The results do not support a role for one proposed stem-loop structure that includes the terminator but are consistent with the involvement of another stem-loop 3' to the terminator. One mutant, containing two compensatory changes in this stem structure, was temperature sensitive for replication and for formation of the gag-pol protein. The results suggest that RNA sequence and structure are critical determinants of translational readthrough in vivo.

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