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Nucleic Acids Res. 2001 Dec 15;29(24):5079-89.

Conserved RNA secondary structures in Picornaviridae genomes.

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Institut für Theoretische Chemie und Molekulare Strukturbiologie, Universität Wien, Währingerstrasse 17, A-1090 Wien, Austria.


The family Picornaviridae contains important pathogens including, for example, hepatitis A virus and foot-and-mouth disease virus. The genome of these viruses is a single messenger-active (+)-RNA of 7200-8500 nt. Besides coding for the viral proteins, it also contains functionally important RNA secondary structures, among them an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) region towards the 5'-end. This contribution provides a comprehensive computational survey of the complete genomic RNAs and a detailed comparative analysis of the conserved structural elements in seven of the currently nine genera in the family PICORNAVIRIDAE: Compared with previous studies we find: (i) that only smaller sections of the IRES region than previously reported are conserved at single base-pair resolution and (ii) that there is a number of significant structural elements in the coding region. Furthermore, we identify potential cis-acting replication elements in four genera where this feature has not been reported so far.

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