A retroviral RNA secondary structure required for efficient initiation of reverse transcription

D. Cobrinik, L. Soskey, J. Leis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Genetic evidence is presented which suggests the existence of an important structural element in the 5' noncoding region of avian retrovirus RNA. The proposed structure, which we term the U5-leader stem, is composed of sequences in the middle of U5 and in the leader, flanking the primer-binding site. U5 and leader mutations which would disrupt this structure caused a partial replication defect. However, nucleotide substitions in the leader, which would structurally compensate for a U5 deletion mutation, restored normal replication. Analysis of replication intermediates of viruses with the above mutations suggests that the U5-leader stem is required for efficient DNA synthesis in vivo and for initiation of DNA synthesis from the tRNA(Trp) primer in melittin-activated virions. However, this structure does not appear to be required for binding of the tRNA(Trp) primer to viral RNA. These results support a role for the U5-leader stem structure, independent of its primary sequence, in the initiation of retroviral replication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3622-3630
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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