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J Mol Biol. 1999 Aug 20;291(3):603-13.

An additional dimer linkage structure in Moloney murine leukemia virus RNA.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


We have identified an additional dimerization linkage structure in the genome of Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMLV). Retroviral genomes have long been known to be linked at their 5' ends to form dimers. In MoMLV, a hairpin loop functioning as a dimer linkage structure (DLS) has previously been identified at nucleotides 278-303. Here, we describe RNA dimers formed from sections of the MoMLV 5' untranslated region that do not contain the previously described MoMLV DLS. These dimers exhibit the distinctive characteristics previously described for whole genome dimers. We have mapped this novel region to nucleotides 199-243. This sequence contains a stem-loop structure (nucleotides 204-227) much like the 278-303 region. We describe the chemical and thermal stability of dimers containing the 204-227 stem-loop as well as kinetics and salt-dependence of dimer formation. Our results show that dimerization of MoMLV RNA can be nucleated at multiple sites and suggest that the 5' untranslated region may contain separately folding and dimerizing domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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