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RNA. 2016 Nov;22(11):1689-1698. Epub 2016 Sep 9.

Heterogeneous structures formed by conserved RNA sequences within the HIV reverse transcription initiation site.

Author information

1
Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5126, USA.
2
Biophysics Program, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5126, USA.

Abstract

Reverse transcription is a key process in the early steps of HIV infection. This process initiates within a specific complex formed by the 5' UTR of the HIV genomic RNA (vRNA) and a host primer tRNALys3 Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, we detect two distinct conformers adopted by the tRNA/vRNA initiation complex. We directly show that an interaction between the conserved 8-nucleotide viral RNA primer activation signal (PAS) and the primer tRNA occurs in one of these conformers. This intermolecular PAS interaction likely induces strain on a vRNA intramolecular helix, which must be broken for reverse transcription to initiate. We propose a mechanism by which this vRNA/tRNA conformer relieves the kinetic block formed by the vRNA intramolecular helix to initiate reverse transcription.

KEYWORDS:

HIV RNA structure; NMR spectroscopy; reverse transcription; single-molecule FRET

PMID:
27613581
PMCID:
PMC5066621
DOI:
10.1261/rna.056804.116
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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