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Nat Struct Biol. 2002 May;9(5):375-80.

A conserved RNA structure within the HCV IRES eIF3-binding site.

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RiboTargets Ltd., Granta Park, Abington, Cambridge, CB1 6GB, UK.


The hepatitis C virus (HCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) is recognized specifically by the small ribosomal subunit and eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) before viral translation initiation. Using extensive mutagenesis and structure probing analysis, we show that the eIF3-binding domain of the HCV IRES contains an internal loop structure (loop IIIb) and an adjacent mismatched helix that are important for IRES-dependent initiation of translation. NMR studies reveal a unique three-dimensional structure for this internal loop that is conserved between viral isolates of varying primary sequence in this region. These data indicate that internal loop IIIb may be an attractive target for structure-based design of new antiviral agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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