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J Virol. 1996 Jan;70(1):179-87.

RNA aptamers selected to bind human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Rev in vitro are Rev responsive in vivo.

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Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.


RNA aptamers (binding sequences) that can interact tightly and specifically with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Rev protein have previously been selected from random sequence pools. Although the selected sequences compete with the wild-type Rev-binding element (RBE) in vitro, it was not known whether they would be able to functionally replace the RBE in vivo. Two aptamers that were different from the wild-type RBE in terms of both primary sequence and secondary structure were inserted into the full-length Rev-responsive element (RRE) in place of the RBE. The hybrid RREs were assayed for their ability to mediate Rev function in vivo using a reporter system. The aptamers were found to be functionally equivalent to the wild-type element when the assay system was saturated with Rev and better than the wild-type element when Rev was limiting. These results demonstrate that the affinity of the primary Rev-binding element rather than its particular sequence may be most responsible for conferring Rev responsiveness on viral mRNAs. Moreover, the fact that increased binding ability can lead to increased Rev responsiveness suggests that cellular factors do not directly influence the Rev:RBE interaction. Finally, since sequences distinct from the RBE are found to be Rev responsive, it may be possible for the RBE to readily mutate in response to drugs or gene therapy reagents that target the Rev:RBE interaction.

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