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Cell. 1989 Jan 27;56(2):303-12.

Activation of double-stranded RNA-dependent kinase (dsl) by the TAR region of HIV-1 mRNA: a novel translational control mechanism.

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Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


All mRNAs of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) contain in their 5' untranslated region a sequence termed TAR that responds to trans-activation by the tat (trans-activating) protein. This RNA sequence assumes a stable secondary structure, and its cap structure is relatively inaccessible. Here we report that these structural properties of the TAR sequence underlie the ability of TAR to inhibit in trans the translation of other mRNAs. This mechanism of translation inhibition involves the activation of the double-stranded RNA-dependent kinase (dsl), which in turn phosphorylates the protein synthesis initiation factor 2 (eIF-2). Mutations in the TAR region that diminish the stability of the secondary structure cause a significant reduction in the trans-inhibition. A similar reduction in the dsl activation occurs when TAR is placed further downstream of the cap structure. This is a clear demonstration of a specific naturally occurring mRNA sequence that can activate dsl. We suggest a novel translational regulatory mechanism that interdigitates the activities of eIF-2 and eIF-4F.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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