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Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Sep;37(16):5498-510. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp553. Epub 2009 Jul 3.

In vitro characterization of a miR-122-sensitive double-helical switch element in the 5' region of hepatitis C virus RNA.

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Laboratorio de Arqueología del RNA, Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Instituto de Parasitología y Biomedicina López Neyra Armilla, 18100 Granada, Spain.


It has been proposed that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) resides within a locked conformation, owing to annealing of its immediate flanking sequences. In this study, structure probing using Escherichia coli dsRNA-specific RNase III and other classical tools showed that this region switches to an open conformation triggered by the liver-specific microRNA, miR-122. This structural transition, observed in vitro, may be the mechanistic basis for the involvement of downstream IRES structural domain VI in translation, as well as providing a role of liver-specific miR-122 in HCV infection. In addition, the induced RNA switching at the 5' untranslated region could ultimately represent a new mechanism of action of micro-RNAs.

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