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Virology. 1995 Sep 10;212(1):47-57.

A study of the dimerization of Rous sarcoma virus RNA in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Leicester School of Medicine, England.


The Rous sarcoma virus dimer linkage site (DLS) has been located by electron microscopy at position 511 +/- 28 nucleotides. We have studied the dimerization of RNAs encompassing the first 634 nucleotides of Rous sarcoma virus and conclude that there are at least two dimerization signals. One is located between nucleotides 531 and 634 and may involve Watson-Crick pairing of an imperfect inverted repeat. The other signal is located between nucleotides 496 and 530. A tetraguanine sequence at nucleotides 523-526 is required for dimerization of this domain. The guanines are not involved in an identifiable Watson-Crick interaction or in guanine tetrad formation. Either dimerization domain can initiate the dimerization of RNA 1-634. It is possible that these domains are two parts of a single dimerization signal. Interstrand RNA contacts within the virion are not limited to the DLS but occur along the length of the genome. Nascent virions contain monomeric RNA which slowly associates to form an RNA dimer. The limiting step in dimerization is not proteolytic cleavage of the gag precursor because only the mature capsid protein p27 can be detected in these nascent virions.

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