Is mediated by a specific interaction between the viral Gag protein and an RNA structure in the 59 untranslated region (59UTR) called encapsidation signal or Psi (Y). This association leads to incorporation of gRNA dimers into Gag/GagPol particles. Whereas the core encapsidation signal is composed of 1326631 110 nt partially overlapping the gag start codon it is known that ��-Sitosterol ��-D-glucoside sequences up- and downstream of this sequence also influence the encapsidation efficiency. All in all the entire 59UTR (335 nt) and approximately 300 nt of gag are important for packaging (reviewed in [1]). Complex alternative splicing of the genomic transcript of HIV-1 generates more than 30 different RNAs that can be divided in singly-spliced and fully-spliced transcripts [2,3]. All spliced RNAs have in common that the major splice donor (splice donor 1, SD1) is fused to a downstream splice acceptor site (SA) [2?]. Since SD1 is localized in the coreencapsidation signal, 46 nt preceding the gag start codon together with the entire gag sequence are removed in the course of splicing. As a consequence, the first highly structured 289 nt of the 59UTR are present in all spliced viral RNAs. Although the gRNA is highly enriched in viral particles, a small but significant amount of spliced viral RNA species is also packaged specifically [5]. High amounts of spliced viral RNA could be detected in virus particles isolated from patients under highly active anti-retroviral therapy [6]. Under in vitro JW-74 biological activity conditions Gag was able to bind to the 59 end present in all viral RNAs with high affinity [7]. In cell culture based assays the polyA RNA stem loop emerged as a critical determinant for packaging of spliced RNAs [8]. Furthermore, reduction of virion-associated gRNA levels by targeted deletions in the encapsidation signal or mutation of Gag is accompanied by an increased amount of encapsidated spliced RNAs [8,9]. Additional evidence for packaging of spliced RNAs was obtained when reverse transcribed cDNA corresponding to spliced viral RNAsRev-Stimulated Encapsidation of Spliced Vector RNAwas detected in HIV-1 infected cells [10,11]. This indicates that viral particles containing spliced RNA may even be infectious. The viral Rev protein allows nuclear export of unspliced and singly-spliced HIV transcripts via interaction with an RNA structure called Rev-response element (RRE). Recently, we discovered that a Rev-mediated export from nucleus to cytoplasm is essential for a highly efficient encapsidation process of lentiviral vector and proviral gRNA [12?4]. Furthermore, the presence of an RRE in murine leukemia virus gRNA was shown to increase packaging into HIV particles in the presence of Rev [15]. Since singly-spliced HIV RNAs also contain the RRE, we decided to study the influence of Rev on encapsidation of spliced HIV-1derived vector RNA.Results and Discussion Construction of lentiviral vectorsThe parental lentiviral vector HIV-CS-CG [16,17] contains the major splice donor (SD1) and the splice acceptor sites 7a, 7b and 7 surrounded by cis-acting splicing regulatory sequences (intron splicing silencer, exon splicing enhancer 2 and 3, exon splicing silencer 3a and 3b). In order to imitate the splicing pattern of HIV1 18325633 we inserted a 345 bp fragment from NL4.3Re [18] between these splice sites encompassing splice acceptor sites 4a, 4b, 4c and 5, splice donor site 4 as well as the cis-acting regulatory sequence GAR (an exon splicing enhancer). The resulting plasmid VHgenomic and its transcripts.Is mediated by a specific interaction between the viral Gag protein and an RNA structure in the 59 untranslated region (59UTR) called encapsidation signal or Psi (Y). This association leads to incorporation of gRNA dimers into Gag/GagPol particles. Whereas the core encapsidation signal is composed of 1326631 110 nt partially overlapping the gag start codon it is known that sequences up- and downstream of this sequence also influence the encapsidation efficiency. All in all the entire 59UTR (335 nt) and approximately 300 nt of gag are important for packaging (reviewed in [1]). Complex alternative splicing of the genomic transcript of HIV-1 generates more than 30 different RNAs that can be divided in singly-spliced and fully-spliced transcripts [2,3]. All spliced RNAs have in common that the major splice donor (splice donor 1, SD1) is fused to a downstream splice acceptor site (SA) [2?]. Since SD1 is localized in the coreencapsidation signal, 46 nt preceding the gag start codon together with the entire gag sequence are removed in the course of splicing. As a consequence, the first highly structured 289 nt of the 59UTR are present in all spliced viral RNAs. Although the gRNA is highly enriched in viral particles, a small but significant amount of spliced viral RNA species is also packaged specifically [5]. High amounts of spliced viral RNA could be detected in virus particles isolated from patients under highly active anti-retroviral therapy [6]. Under in vitro conditions Gag was able to bind to the 59 end present in all viral RNAs with high affinity [7]. In cell culture based assays the polyA RNA stem loop emerged as a critical determinant for packaging of spliced RNAs [8]. Furthermore, reduction of virion-associated gRNA levels by targeted deletions in the encapsidation signal or mutation of Gag is accompanied by an increased amount of encapsidated spliced RNAs [8,9]. Additional evidence for packaging of spliced RNAs was obtained when reverse transcribed cDNA corresponding to spliced viral RNAsRev-Stimulated Encapsidation of Spliced Vector RNAwas detected in HIV-1 infected cells [10,11]. This indicates that viral particles containing spliced RNA may even be infectious. The viral Rev protein allows nuclear export of unspliced and singly-spliced HIV transcripts via interaction with an RNA structure called Rev-response element (RRE). Recently, we discovered that a Rev-mediated export from nucleus to cytoplasm is essential for a highly efficient encapsidation process of lentiviral vector and proviral gRNA [12?4]. Furthermore, the presence of an RRE in murine leukemia virus gRNA was shown to increase packaging into HIV particles in the presence of Rev [15]. Since singly-spliced HIV RNAs also contain the RRE, we decided to study the influence of Rev on encapsidation of spliced HIV-1derived vector RNA.Results and Discussion Construction of lentiviral vectorsThe parental lentiviral vector HIV-CS-CG [16,17] contains the major splice donor (SD1) and the splice acceptor sites 7a, 7b and 7 surrounded by cis-acting splicing regulatory sequences (intron splicing silencer, exon splicing enhancer 2 and 3, exon splicing silencer 3a and 3b). In order to imitate the splicing pattern of HIV1 18325633 we inserted a 345 bp fragment from NL4.3Re [18] between these splice sites encompassing splice acceptor sites 4a, 4b, 4c and 5, splice donor site 4 as well as the cis-acting regulatory sequence GAR (an exon splicing enhancer). The resulting plasmid VHgenomic and its transcripts.

Is mediated by a specific interaction between the viral Gag protein

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