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Open Biol. 2012 Oct;2(10):120109. doi: 10.1098/rsob.120109.

Ribosomal frameshifting used in influenza A virus expression occurs within the sequence UCC_UUU_CGU and is in the +1 direction.

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Division of Virology, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.


Programmed ribosomal frameshifting is used in the expression of many virus genes and some cellular genes. In eukaryotic systems, the most well-characterized mechanism involves -1 tandem tRNA slippage on an X_XXY_YYZ motif. By contrast, the mechanisms involved in programmed +1 (or -2) slippage are more varied and often poorly characterized. Recently, a novel gene, PA-X, was discovered in influenza A virus and found to be expressed via a shift to the +1 reading frame. Here, we identify, by mass spectrometric analysis, both the site (UCC_UUU_CGU) and direction (+1) of the frameshifting that is involved in PA-X expression. Related sites are identified in other virus genes that have previously been proposed to be expressed via +1 frameshifting. As these viruses infect insects (chronic bee paralysis virus), plants (fijiviruses and amalgamaviruses) and vertebrates (influenza A virus), such motifs may form a new class of +1 frameshift-inducing sequences that are active in diverse eukaryotes.


PA-X; genetic recoding; influenza virus; mass spectrometry; ribosomal frameshifting; translation

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