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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Mar 13;109(11):E630-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1111303109. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Alternative reading frame selection mediated by a tRNA-like domain of an internal ribosome entry site.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Centre for High-Throughput Biology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3 Canada.


The dicistrovirus intergenic region internal ribosome entry site (IRES) utilizes a unique mechanism, involving P-site tRNA mimicry, to directly assemble 80S ribosomes and initiate translation at a specific non-AUG codon in the ribosomal A site. A subgroup of dicistrovirus genomes contains an additional stem-loop 5'-adjacent to the IRES and a short open reading frame (ORFx) that overlaps the viral structural polyprotein ORF (ORF2) in the +1 reading frame. Using mass spectrometry and extensive mutagenesis, we show that, besides directing ORF2 translation, the Israeli acute paralysis dicistrovirus IRES also directs ORFx translation. The latter is mediated by a UG base pair adjacent to the P-site tRNA-mimicking domain. An ORFx peptide was detected in virus-infected honey bees by multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry. Finally, the 5' stem-loop increases IRES activity and may couple translation of the two major ORFs of the virus. This study reveals a novel viral strategy in which a tRNA-like IRES directs precise, initiator Met-tRNA-independent translation of two overlapping ORFs.

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