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Journal of negative results in biomedicine

Refractoriness of hepatitis C virus internal ribosome entry site to processing by Dicer in vivo.


PMID 19678941

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive-strand RNA virus harboring a highly structured internal ribosome entry site (IRES) in the 5' nontranslated region of its genome. Important for initiating translation of viral RNAs into proteins, the HCV IRES is composed of RNA structures reminiscent of microRNA precursors that may be targeted by the host RNA silencing machinery. We report that HCV IRES can be recognized and processed into small RNAs by the human ribonuclease Dicer in vitro. Furthermore, we identify domains II, III and VI of HCV IRES as potential substrates for Dicer in vitro. However, maintenance of the functional integrity of the HCV IRES in response to Dicer overexpression suggests that the structure of the HCV IRES abrogates its processing by Dicer in vivo. Our results suggest that the HCV IRES may have evolved to adopt a structure or a cellular context that is refractory to Dicer processing, which may contribute to viral escape of the host RNA silencing machinery.