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J Mol Biol. 1993 Sep 20;233(2):245-60.

A two-dimensional model at the nucleotide level for the central hairpin of coliphage Q beta RNA.

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  • 1Chemistry Faculty, Moscow State University, Russia.


We describe the construction and testing of a structural model at the nucleotide level for conformation CH of the central hairpin of genomic RNA from coliphage Q beta. The model was developed with the computer program MFOLD using both optimal and suboptimal predictions. Structural information obtained by electron microscopic analysis of Kleinschmidt spreadings of Q beta RNA was used to guide the modeling. The model was tested in solution with three enzymatic probes: RNase T1, RNase T2, and RNase V1, as well as four chemical probes: dimethylsulfate, diethylpyrocarbonate, kethoxal and 1-cyclohexyl-3-(2-morpholinoethyl)carbodiimide metho-p-toluene sulfonate (CMCT). The structural analyses in solution are consistent with the predicted structural model. The model is also supported by comparative structural analysis with the related coliphage SP. The model provides a structural basis for published biochemical and genetic studies implicating large, long-range structural features in the co-regulation of viral coat and replicase expression. In addition, we show that the read-through region of the viral protein A1 forms a separate structural domain, and we suggest that it functions as a nucleation site that participates in the folding and refolding of the molecule during replication and translation. In addition to the central hairpin, we have analyzed the structure of the viral coat initiation region. Our studies show that the entire region consists of small local hairpins and that 26 nucleotides immediately surrounding the coat initiation codon are single-stranded.

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