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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Mar 1;25(5):1042-9.

A high affinity binding site for the HIV-1 nucleocapsid protein.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254, USA.


The nucleocapsid protein (NC) of HIV-1 is a small zinc finger protein that contributes to multiple steps of the viral life cycle, including the proper encapsidation of HIV RNA. This is accomplished through an interaction between NC and a region at the 5'-end of the RNA, defined as the Psi element. However, the specificity of NC for Psi or for RNA in general is not well understood. To study this problem, we used SELEX to identify high affinity RNA ligands that bind to NC. A 'winner' molecule (SelPsi), as well as a subregion of Psi RNA, were further characterized to understand the interaction between NC and SelPsi and its relationship to the interaction between NC and Psi. The comparison makes predictions about the sequence and structure of a high affinity binding site within the HIV-1 Psi element.

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