Efficient replication of full-length murine leukemia viruses modified at the dimer initiation site regions

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Retroviruses encapsidate two copies of full-length viral RNA molecules linked together as a dimeric genome. RNA stem loop structures harboring palindromic (or "kissing") loop sequences constitute important cis-elements for viral dimerization known as dimer initiation sites (DIS). In murine leukemia virus (MLV), a 10-mer and a 16-mer palindrome (DIS-1 and DIS-2, respectively) located in the viral leader region mediate dimerization in vitro and affect dimer stability of vector RNA in vivo. We have investigated the effect on viral replication of introducing deletions or nucleotide substitutions within these palindromes in a full-length MLV genome. Our results demonstrate that viruses modified at the dimer initiation site regions are viable and show wild-type levels of RNA encapsidation. One mutant lacking the DIS-1 palindrome was severely impaired and displayed an increased cellular ratio of spliced versus genomic RNA that most likely contributes to the inefficient replication. The implications for development of DIS-modified retrovirus-based vectors are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-370
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2004

    Research areas

  • 5' Untranslated Regions, Animals, BALB 3T3 Cells, Base Sequence, Cell Line, Dimerization, Enhancer Elements, Genetic, Gene Deletion, Leukemia Virus, Murine, Mice, Molecular Sequence Data, Point Mutation, RNA Splicing, RNA, Spliced Leader, Virus Assembly, Virus Replication

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