Encapsidation determinants located downstream of the major splice donor in the maedi-visna virus leader region.
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CitationJ. Virol. 2006, 80(23):11743-55
AbstractWe investigated the role of the 5'-untranslated region between the primer binding site and the gag initiation codon in ovine lentivirus maedi-visna virus (MVV) genomic RNA encapsidation. We identified five computer-predicted stem-loops, three of which were highly conserved in primary sequence and structure. One stable 83-nucleotide (nt) stem-loop (SL4) was not conserved in the primary sequence, but phylogenetic analysis revealed several base pair covariations. The deletion of individual stem-loops did not markedly affect the relative encapsidation efficiency (REE). Only one mutant, carrying a disruption of a 31-nt stem-loop (SL5), had 58% REE in fetal ovine synovial (FOS) cells. A 168-nt deletion (Delta3MSD) downstream of the major splice donor (MSD) which removed three stem-loops, including SL5, resulted in 24% and 20% REE in FOS and 293T cells, respectively. A 100-nt deletion (Delta5MSD) upstream of the MSD resulted in 15-fold lower cellular genomic RNA levels than the wild-type levels in 293T cells. The Delta5MSD mutant and a double mutant (DM) (Delta5MSD and Delta3MSD) did not express detectable levels of virion proteins in 293T cells. In contrast, the region deleted in Delta5MSD was dispensable in FOS cells, and the DM had the same REE as the Delta3MSD virus. Thus, the region upstream of the MSD contains sequences critical for RNA and protein expression in a cell type-specific fashion. Our results indicate that MVV encapsidation determinants are located downstream of the MSD. These results provide comparative insight into lentiviral encapsidation and can be utilized in the design of MVV-based gene transfer vectors.
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