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J Mol Biol. 1996 May 31;259(1):58-68.

Evidence that a kissing loop structure facilitates genomic RNA dimerisation in HIV-1.

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


Genomic RNA isolated from retroviral particles is a dimer composed of two identical strands. A region called the dimer linkage signal close to the 5' end of the RNA may be involved in forming the dimer. Several models for the formation of the HIV-1 RNA dimer have been proposed. In the kissing loop model, dimerisation results from base-pairing between homologous sequences in an RNA stem-loop. In the guanine tetrad model interstrand guanine contacts from the dimer. We have made mutations preventing the dimerisation of subgenomic RNAs in vitro by these mechanisms. To prevent the kissing loop dimer forming we changed the complementary loop sequence from 711GCGCGC716 to 711AAACGC716. To prevent the guanine tetrad dimer forming we changed G819 to U. These mutations were introduced into a clone of HIV-1NL4-3 separately and collectively. All three clones produced infectious virions. Dimeric RNA with similar thermal stabilities was isolated from viruses containing either the single or the double mutations. The results suggest that sequences involved in forming a guanine tetrad are not important for HIV-1 RNA dimerisation. In contrast sequences involved in forming a kissing loop complex are not absolutely required, but are important in forming a stable HIV-1 RNA dimer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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