The secondary structure of satellite tobacco mosaic virus (STMV) RNA was predicted using computer simulations of RNA folding. The analogies of structural elements in the 3′ end untranslated regions (3′-UTR) of tobamoviral RNAs were analysed. In addition to the tRNA-like structure and pseudoknot stalk, which are found in all known RNAs of tobamoviruses and STMV, another region of stable consecutive pseudoknots was predicted in the 3′-UTR of STMV RNA. A similar pattern of repeated structural units, containing pseudoknot staks and parts of the tRNA-like structure, was also found in odontoglossum ringspot virus (ORSV) RNA 3′-UTR. The predictions on the structure are supported by sequence comparisons which point to an important functional role of 3′ terminal pseudoknots in STMV RNA as well as in other tobamoviral RNAs. The possible participation of pseudoknotted structures in the interactions with coat protein in STMV is discussed.


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