1887

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is classified in the genus of the family , whose members have a single-stranded RNA genome of positive polarity, which encodes a single polyprotein. Within this family, HCV is closely related to viruses of the genus , which includes classical swine fever virus (CSFV). Translation of the hepaci- and pestiviral polyprotein is initiated by internal entry of ribosomes, promoted by the 5′NTR. The secondary and tertiary RNA structures of the HCV and pestivirus 5′NTRs are well conserved, despite the fact that their sequences differ significantly from one another. By analogy with other positive-stranded RNA viruses, the 5′NTR of HCV is likely to contain -acting determinants for replication as well as the determinants for translation. Studies on both signals could be complicated, as these signals might overlap. In this study, this problem was addressed by constructing chimeric HCV/CSFV 5′NTRs. A two-step analysis of these 5′NTRs was performed: (a) in a translation assay, which provided the possibility to study translation independently of the possible effects on replication; and (b) in a replication assay, in which were studied only the chimeric 5′NTRs for which IRES-dependent translation was demonstrated. An overlap was observed between HCV RNA elements involved in these processes. Exchange of domain II had a minor effect on the translation efficiency of the chimeric 5′NTRs, while replication of subgenomic replicons with these chimeric 5′NTRs was abolished. Exchange of domain III subdomains severely decreased translation activity, while replication was maintained.

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2003-07-01
2019-10-19
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