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Microbiol Rev. 1996 Sep;60(3):499-511.

RNA-protein interactions in regulation of picornavirus RNA translation.

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  • 1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright, Woking, Surrey, United Kingdom.


The translation of picornavirus RNA occurs by a cap-independent mechanism directed by a region of about 450 nucleotides from the 5' untranslated region, termed an internal ribosome entry site (IRES). Internal initiation of protein synthesis occurs without any requirement for viral proteins. Furthermore, it is maintained when host cell protein synthesis is almost abolished. By using in vitro translation systems, two distinct families of IRES elements which have very different predicted RNA secondary structures have been defined. The cardiovirus and aphthovirus elements function very efficiently in rabbit reticulocyte lysate, whereas the enterovirus and rhinovirus elements function poorly in this system. However, supplementation of this translation system with additional cellular proteins can stimulate translation directed by the enterovirus and rhinovirus RNAs and reduce production of aberrant initiation products. The characterization of cellular proteins interacting with the picornavirus IRES is a major focus of research. Many different protein species can be observed to interact with regions of the IRES by in vitro analyses, e.g., UV cross-linking. However, the function and significance of many of these interactions are not always known. For two proteins, La and the polypyrimidine tract-binding protein, evidence has been obtained for a functional role of their interaction with IRES elements.

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