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RNA. 2002 Aug;8(8):1045-55.

Domains on the hepatitis C virus internal ribosome entry site for 40s subunit binding.

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Department of Biochemistry, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The internal ribosome entry site (IRES) of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA is known to interact with the 40S ribosomal subunit alone, in the absence of any additional initiation factors or Met-tRNAi. Previous work from this laboratory on the 80S and 48S ribosomal initiation complexes involving the HCV IRES showed that stem-loop III, the pseudoknot domain, and some coding sequence were protected from pancreatic RNase digestion. Stem-loop II is never protected by these complexes. Furthermore, there is no prior evidence reported showing extensive direct binding of stem-loop II to ribosomes or subunits. Using direct analysis of RNase-protected HCV IRES domains bound to 40S ribosomal subunits, we have determined that stem-loops II and III and the pseudoknot of the HCV IRES are involved in this initial binding step. The start AUG codon is only minimally protected. The HCV-40S subunit binary complex thus involves recognition and binding of stem-loop II, revealing its role in the first step of a multistep initiation process that may also involve rearrangement of the bound IRES RNA as it progresses.

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