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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Jul;20(14):4990-9.

Naturally occurring dicistronic cricket paralysis virus RNA is regulated by two internal ribosome entry sites.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Cricket paralysis virus is a member of a group of insect picorna-like viruses. Cloning and sequencing of the single plus-strand RNA genome revealed the presence of two nonoverlapping open reading frames, ORF1 and ORF2, that encode the nonstructural and structural proteins, respectively. We show that each ORF is preceded by one internal ribosome entry site (IRES). The intergenic IRES is located 6,024 nucleotides from the 5' end of the viral RNA and is more active than the IRES located at the 5' end of the RNA, providing a mechanistic explanation for the increased abundance of structural proteins relative to nonstructural proteins in infected cells. Mutational analysis of this intergenic-region IRES revealed that ORF2 begins with a noncognate CCU triplet. Complementarity of this CCU triplet with sequences in the IRES is important for IRES function, pointing to an involvement of RNA-RNA interactions in translation initiation. Thus, the cricket paralysis virus genome is an example of a naturally occurring, functionally dicistronic eukaryotic mRNA whose translation is controlled by two IRES elements located at the 5' end and in the middle of the mRNA. This finding argues that eukaryotic mRNAs can express multiple proteins not only by polyprotein processing, reinitiation and frameshifting but also by using multiple IRES elements.

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