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Virology. 1996 Apr 15;218(2):400-5.

Tandem placement of a coronavirus promoter results in enhanced mRNA synthesis from the downstream-most initiation site.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 37996-0845, USA.


Insertion of the 17-nucleotide promoter region for the bovine coronavirus N gene as part of a 27-nucleotide cassette into the open reading frame of a cloned synthetic defective-interfering (DI) RNA resulted in synthesis of subDI RNA transcripts from the replicating DI RNA genome. Duplicating and triplicating the promoter sequence in tandem caused a progressive increase in the efficiency of subgenomic mRNA synthesis despite a concurrent decrease in the rate of DI RNA accumulation that was not specific to the promoter sequences being added. Although initiation of transcription (leader fusion) occurred at each of the three promoter sites in the tandem construct, almost all of the transcripts were found as a product of the most downstream (3'-most on the genome) promoter. These results show that enhancement of subgenomic mRNA synthesis is a property that can reside within sequence situated near the promoter. A possible role for the plus strand in the downstream promoter choice is suggested.

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