Promoter for Sindbis virus RNA-dependent subgenomic RNA transcription

R. Levis, S. Schlesinger, H. V. Huang

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Sindbis virus is a positive-strand RNA enveloped virus, a member of the Alphavirus genus of the Togaviridae family. Two species of mRNA are synthesized in cells infected with Sindbis virus: one, the 49S RNA, is the genomic RNA; the other, the 26S RNA, is a subgenomic RNA that is identical in sequence to the 3' one-third of the genomic RNA. Ou et al. (J.-H. Ou, C.M. Rice, L. Dalgarno, E.G. Strauss, and J.H. Strauss, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 79:5235-5239, 1982) identified a highly conserved region 19 nucleotides upstream and 2 nucleotides downstream from the start of the 26S RNA and proposed that in the negative-strand template, these nucleotides compose the promoter for directing the synthesis of the subgenomic RNA. Defective interfering (DI) RNAs of Sindbis virus were used to test this proposal. A 227-nucleotide sequence encompassing 98 nucleotides upstream and 117 nucleotides downstream from the start site of the Sindbis virus subgenomic RNA was inserted into a DI genome. The DI RNA containing the insert was replicated and packaged in the presence of helper virus, and cells infected with these DI particles produced a subgenomic RNA of the size and sequence expected if the promoter was functional. The initiating nucleotide was identical to that used for Sindbis virus subgenomic mRNA synthesis. Deletion analysis showed that the minimal region required to detect transcription of a subgenomic RNA from the negative-strand template of a DI RNA was 18 or 19 nucleotides upstream and 5 nucleotides downstream from the start of the subgenomic RNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1726-1733
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

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