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Retrovirus Translation Initiation: Issues and Hypotheses Derived from Study of HIV-1

[ Vol. 4 , Issue. 2 ]


Alper Yilmaz, Cheryl Bolinger and Kathleen Boris-Lawrie   Pages 131 - 139 ( 9 )


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has a small, multifunctional genome that encodes a relatively large and complex proteome. The virus has adopted specialized post-transcriptional control mechanisms to maximize its coding capacity while economically maintaining the information stored in cis-acting replication sequences. The conserved features of the 5 untranslated region of all viral transcripts suggest they are poor substrates for cap-dependent ribosome scanning and provide a compelling rationale for internal initiation of translation. This article summarizes key experimental results of studies that have evaluated HIV-1 translation initiation. A model is discussed in which capdependent and cap-independent initiation mechanisms of HIV-1 co-exist to ensure viral protein production in the context of 1) structured replication motifs that inhibit ribosome scanning, and 2) alterations in host translation machinery in response to HIV-1 infection or other cellular stresses. We discuss key issues that remain to be understood and suggest parameters to validate internal initiation activity in HIV-1 and other retroviruses.


Retrovirus translational control, unspliced RNA, 5' untranslated region, ribosome scanning, internal ribosome entry site


Ohio State University, 1925Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

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