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J Virol. 2005 Aug;79(16):10348-55.

cis-Acting packaging signals in the influenza virus PB1, PB2, and PA genomic RNA segments.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University, 1364 Clifton Road, N.E., Room H-184, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


The influenza A virus genome consists of eight negative-sense RNA segments. The cis-acting signals that allow these viral RNA segments (vRNAs) to be packaged into influenza virus particles have not been fully elucidated, although the 5' and 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) of each vRNA are known to be required. Efficient packaging of the NA, HA, and NS segments also requires coding sequences immediately adjacent to the UTRs, but it is not yet known whether the same is true of other vRNAs. By assaying packaging of genetically tagged vRNA reporters during plasmid-directed influenza virus assembly in cells, we have now mapped cis-acting sequences that are sufficient for packaging of the PA, PB1, and PB2 segments. We find that each involves portions of the distal coding regions. Efficient packaging of the PA or PB1 vRNAs requires at least 40 bases of 5' and 66 bases of 3' coding sequences, whereas packaging of the PB2 segment requires at least 80 bases of 5' coding region but is independent of coding sequences at the 3' end. Interestingly, artificial reporter vRNAs carrying mismatched ends (i.e., whose 5' and 3' ends are derived from different vRNA segments) were poorly packaged, implying that the two ends of any given vRNA may collaborate in forming specific structures to be recognized by the viral packaging machinery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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