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J Virol. 1991 Oct;65(10):5305-13.

Identification and characterization of intragenic sequences which repress human immunodeficiency virus structural gene expression.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Oncology & Virology, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Roche Research Center, Nutley, New Jersey 07110-1199.


Examination of the life cycle of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has shown that multiple levels of regulation exist, including some which require the virus-encoded Rev protein. In the absence of Rev, mRNAs encoding the structural proteins remain untranslated, a phenomenon which appears, in part, to be caused by nuclear entrapment of these RNA species. To examine the basis for repression of structural gene mRNA expression, a heterologous assay system was utilized to determine whether regions present within gag and pol contain elements capable of suppressing gene expression when present in cis. Both genes were found to contain cis-acting repressor sequences (CRS) that block gene expression when present within the 3' untranslated portion of a heterologous gene transcript. The element within pol was found to have the strongest repressive effect. While Rev alone was unable to reverse the repression observed with the pol sequence, addition of the env Rev-responsive element (RRE) in cis and Rev in trans did cause reversal of inhibition. Deletion mutagenesis defined a 260-bp element within the 3' portion of pol that contains a potent CRS which functions when present in the sense orientation. The corresponding region in HIV-2 pol was found to contain a functionally similar CRS element. To examine the mechanism of repression, the effects of the CRS elements on both the abundance and subcellular distribution of the mRNAs were examined. Neither was dramatically altered when examined in the context of a heterologous reporter (chloramphenicol acetyltransferase) mRNA.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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