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Virol J. 2011 Apr 15;8:172. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-8-172.

A 5'-proximal stem-loop structure of 5' untranslated region of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus genome is key for virus replication.

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Department of Swine Infectious Diseases, Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shanghai 200241, China.



It has been well documented that the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) of many positive-stranded RNA viruses contain key cis-acting regulatory sequences, as well as high-order structural elements. Little is known for such regulatory elements controlling porcine arterivirus replication. We investigated the roles of a conserved stem-loop 2 (SL2) that resides in the 5'UTR of the genome of a type II porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV).


We provided genetic evidences demonstrating that 1) the SL2 in type II PRRSV 5' UTR, N-SL2, could be structurally and functionally substituted by its counterpart in type I PRRSV, E-SL2; 2) the functionality of N-SL2 was dependent upon the G-C rich stem structure, while the ternary-loop size was irrelevant to RNA synthesis; 3) serial deletions showed that the stem integrity of N-SL2 was crucial for subgenomic mRNA synthesis; and 4) when extensive base-pairs in the stem region was deleted, an alternative N-SL2-like structure with different sequence was utilized for virus replication.


Taken together, we concluded that the phylogenetically conserved SL2 in the 5' UTR was crucial for PRRSV virus replication, subgenomic mRNA synthesis in particular.

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