Genomic RNA dimerization is an essential process in the retroviral replication cycle. In vitro, HIV-2 RNA dimerization is mediated at least in part by direct intermolecular interaction at stem-loop 1 (SL1) within the 5′-untranslated leader region (UTR). RNA dimerization is thought to be regulated via alternate presentation and sequestration of dimerization signals by intramolecular base-pairings. One of the proposed regulatory elements is a palindrome sequence (pal) located upstream of SL1. To investigate the role of pal in the regulation of HIV-2 dimerization, we randomized this motif and selected in vitro for dimerization-competent and dimerization-impaired RNAs. Energy minimization folding analysis of these isolated sequences suggests the involvement of pal region in several short-distance intramolecular interactions with other upstream and downstream regions of the UTR. Moreover, the consensus predicted folding patterns indicate the altered presentation of SL1 depending on the interactions of pal with other regions of RNA. The data suggest that pal can act as a positive or negative regulator of SL1-mediated dimerization and that the modulation of base-pairing arrangements that affect RNA dimerization could coordinate multiple signals located within the 5′-UTR. Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
- RNA dimerization