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J Virol. 1993 Jan;67(1):196-203.

Characterization of ribosomal frameshifting for expression of pol gene products of human T-cell leukemia virus type I.

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Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Maryland 21702-1201.


For study of the pol gene expression of human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I), RNA was transcribed in vitro from proviral DNA and translated in rabbit reticulocyte lysates. This cell-free translation resulted in two major translation products representing the Gag and Gag-Pro polyproteins. By contrast, the Gag-Pro-Pol polyprotein could be readily observed only when translation was performed with mutant mRNA in which the protease (pro) reading frame was aligned to gag to eliminate the frameshifting event in the gag-pro overlap. The results indicated that two independent ribosomal frameshifting events are required for expression of the HTLV-I pol gene product. Studies with mutant DNAs facilitated the characterization of the primary structure of the HTLV-I mRNA responsible for the ribosomal frameshift in the pro-pol overlap and demonstrated that the frameshift occurs at the signal sequence UUUAAAC. Direct amino acid sequencing of the transframe protein localized the site of the frameshift to the asparagine codon AAC.

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