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Virus Res. 2009 Feb;139(2):253-66. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2008.06.015. Epub 2008 Aug 8.

Role of RNA chaperones in virus replication.

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Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Campus Universitario de Cantoblanco, Darwin 3, 28049 Madrid, Spain.


RNA molecules are functionally diverse in part due to their extreme structural flexibility that allows rapid regulation by refolding. RNA folding could be a difficult process as often molecules adopt a spatial conformation that is very stable but not biologically functional, named a kinetic trap. RNA chaperones are non-specific RNA binding proteins that help RNA folding by resolving misfolded structures or preventing their formation. There is a large number of viruses whose genome is RNA that allows some evolutionary advantages, such as rapid genome mutation. On the other hand, regions of the viral RNA genomes can adopt different structural conformations, some of them lacking functional relevance and acting as misfolded intermediates. In fact, for an efficient replication, they often require RNA chaperone activities. There is a growing list of RNA chaperones encoded by viruses involved in different steps of the viral cycle. Also, cellular RNA chaperones have been involved in replication of RNA viruses. This review briefly describes RNA chaperone activities and is focused in the roles that viral or cellular nucleic acid chaperones have in RNA virus replication, particularly in those viruses that require discontinuous RNA synthesis.

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