Effects of mutations and deletions in a bicistronic mRNA on the synthesis of influenza B virus NB and NA glycoproteins

M. A. Williams, R. A. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The mRNA derived from influenza B virus RNA segment 6 is functionally bicistronic and encodes the NB and NA glycoproteins in different, overlapping reading frames. NB protein synthesis is initiated at the 5'-proximal AUG codon, and 4 nucleotides downstream there is a second AUG codon which is used to initiate NA protein synthesis. The nucleotide sequence context of the first AUG codon conforms closely with the established 5'-CC(A/G)CCAUGG-3' consensus sequence (M. Kozak, Nucleic Acids Res. 15:8125-8148, 1987), which should favor initiation of NB protein synthesis at this site, yet NB and NA are found to accumulate in approximately equal amounts in infected cells. To determine the features important for allowing initiation at the second 5'-proximal AUG codon, we made changes in the 5'-terminal region of the mRNA, including deletions, insertions, and site-specific mutations. The recombinant DNA molecules were expressed in eucaryotic cells, and the accumulation of NB and NA was quantitated. The data indicate that changes in the immediate sequence around the first AUG codon do not make a large difference in the amounts of NB and NA that accumulate, but that when the first AUG codon is displaced from its normal position it is now quite efficient at preventing downstream initiation events. In addition, the data indicate that an element of the B/NB/NA mRNA 5' untranslated leader region acts in cis to enhance the expression of NB and NA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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