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Cell Rep. 2012 Jul 26;2(1):26-32. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.05.020. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Conservation of a triple-helix-forming RNA stability element in noncoding and genomic RNAs of diverse viruses.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, 295 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06536, USA.


Abundant expression of the long noncoding (lnc) PAN (polyadenylated nuclear) RNA by the human oncogenic gammaherpesvirus Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) depends on a cis-element called the expression and nuclear retention element (ENE). The ENE upregulates PAN RNA by inhibiting its rapid nuclear decay through triple-helix formation with the poly(A) tail. Using structure-based bioinformatics, we identified six ENE-like elements in evolutionarily diverse viral genomes. Five are in double-stranded DNA viruses, including mammalian herpesviruses, insect polydnaviruses, and a protist mimivirus. One is in an insect picorna-like positive-strand RNA virus, suggesting that the ENE can counteract cytoplasmic as well as nuclear RNA decay pathways. Functionality of four of the ENEs was demonstrated by increased accumulation of an intronless polyadenylated reporter transcript in human cells. Identification of these ENEs enabled the discovery of PAN RNA homologs in two additional gammaherpesviruses, RRV and EHV2. Our findings demonstrate that searching for structural elements can lead to rapid identification of lncRNAs.

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