A secondary structure in the 5' noncoding region of avian retrovirus RNA, called the U5-leader stem, was shown previously to have a role in initiation of reverse transcription (D. Cobrinik, L. Soskey, and J. Leis, J. Virol. 62:3622-3630, 1988). We now show that an additional RNA secondary structure near the U5 terminus, called the U5-IR stem, is also important for reverse transcription. Mutations that disrupt the U5-IR stem cause a replication defect associated with both a decrease in synthesis of viral DNA in infected cells and a decrease in initiation of reverse transcription in melittin-permeabilized virions. Structure-compensating base substitutions in the U5-IR restore reverse transcription efficiency. In viral DNA, U5-IR sequences are included in the U5 terminal region that functions as a viral integration donor site. When base substitutions are introduced into these sequences, a reduced efficiency of integration in vitro and in vivo is observed. These observations indicate that U5-IR sequences have a structural role in reverse transcription of viral RNA and a sequence-specific role in the integration of viral DNA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science