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Virus Res. 2009 Feb;139(2):148-56. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2008.07.007. Epub 2008 Aug 15.

Comparing the three-dimensional structures of Dicistroviridae IGR IRES RNAs with other viral RNA structures.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Mail Stop 8101, PO Box 6511, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


The intergenic region (IGR) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) RNAs do not require any of the canonical translation initiation factors to recruit the ribosome to the viral RNA, they eliminate the need for initiator tRNA, and they begin translation from the A-site. The function of these IRESs depends on a specific three-dimensional folded RNA structure. Thus, a complete understanding of the mechanisms of action of these IRESs requires that we understand their structure in detail. Recently, the structures of both domains of the IGR IRES RNAs were solved by X-ray crystallography, providing the first glimpse into an entire IRES RNA structure. Here, I present an analysis of these structures, emphasizing how the structures explain many aspects of IGR IRES function, discussing how these structures have similarities to motifs found in other viral RNAs, and illustrating how these structures give rise to new mechanistic hypotheses.

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