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Nature. 2001 Mar 8;410(6825):235-40.

A mechanism for initiating RNA-dependent RNA polymerization.

Author information

1
Institute of Biotechnology and Department of Biosciences, Viikki Biocenter, PO Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5), 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

In most RNA viruses, genome replication and transcription are catalysed by a viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Double-stranded RNA viruses perform these operations in a capsid (the polymerase complex), using an enzyme that can read both single- and double-stranded RNA. Structures have been solved for such viral capsids, but they do not resolve the polymerase subunits in any detail. Here we show that the 2 A resolution X-ray structure of the active polymerase subunit from the double-stranded RNA bacteriophage straight phi6 is highly similar to that of the polymerase of hepatitis C virus, providing an evolutionary link between double-stranded RNA viruses and flaviviruses. By crystal soaking and co-crystallization, we determined a number of other structures, including complexes with oligonucleotide and/or nucleoside triphosphates (NTPs), that suggest a mechanism by which the incoming double-stranded RNA is opened up to feed the template through to the active site, while the substrates enter by another route. The template strand initially overshoots, locking into a specificity pocket, and then, in the presence of cognate NTPs, reverses to form the initiation complex; this process engages two NTPs, one of which acts with the carboxy-terminal domain of the protein to prime the reaction. Our results provide a working model for the initiation of replication and transcription.

PMID:
11242087
DOI:
10.1038/35065653
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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