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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Jan;5(1):29-38. Epub 2006 Nov 27.

Structural and mechanistic insights into hepatitis C viral translation initiation.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Hepatitis C virus uses an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) to control viral protein synthesis by directly recruiting ribosomes to the translation-start site in the viral mRNA. Structural insights coupled with biochemical studies have revealed that the IRES substitutes for the activities of translation-initiation factors by binding and inducing conformational changes in the 40S ribosomal subunit. Direct interactions of the IRES with initiation factor eIF3 are also crucial for efficient translation initiation, providing clues to the role of eIF3 in protein synthesis.

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