Identification of the in Vitro HIV-2/SIV RNA Dimerization Site Reveals Striking Differences with HIV-1

Fabrice Jossinett, J. Stephen Lodmell, Chantal Ehresmann, Bernard Ehresmann, Roland Marquet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Although their genomes cannot be aligned at the nucleotide level, the HIV-1/SIVcpz and the HIV-2/SIVsm viruses are closely related lentiviruses that contain homologous functional and structural RNA elements in their 5′-untranslated regions. In both groups, the domains containing the trans-Activating region, the 5′-copy of the polyadenylation signal, and the primer binding site (PBS) are followed by a short stem-loop (SL1) containing a six-nucleotide self-complementary sequence in the loop, flanked by unpaired purines. In HIV-1, SL1 is involved in the dimerization of the viral RNA, in vitro and in vivo. Here, we tested whether SL1 has the same function in HIV-2 and SIVsm RNA. Surprisingly, we found that SL1 is neither required nor involved in the dimerization of HIV-2 and SIV RNA. We identified the NarI sequence located in the PBS as the main site of HIV-2 RNA dimerization. cis and trans complementation of point mutations indicated that this self-complementary sequence forms symmetrical intermolecular interactions in the RNA dimer and suggested that HIV-2 and SIV RNA dimerization proceeds through a kissing loop mechanism, as previously shown for HIV-1. Furthermore, annealing of tRNA 3Lys to the PBS strongly inhibited in vitro RNA dimerization, indicating that, in vivo, the intermolecular interaction involving the NarI sequence must be dissociated to allow annealing of the primer tRNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5598-5604
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 23 2001


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