Nucleic acids research

The HIV-2 Rev-response element: determining secondary structure and defining folding intermediates.

PMID 23640333


Interaction between the viral protein Rev and the RNA motifs known as Rev response elements (RREs) is required for transport of unspliced and partially spliced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and HIV-2 RNAs from the nucleus to the cytoplasm during the later stages of virus replication. A more detailed understanding of these nucleoprotein complexes and the host factors with which they interact should accelerate the development of new antiviral drugs targeting cis-acting RNA regulatory signals. In this communication, the secondary structures of the HIV-2 RRE and two RNA folding precursors have been identified using the SHAPE (selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension) chemical probing methodology together with a novel mathematical approach for determining the secondary structures of RNA conformers present in a mixture. A complementary chemical probing technique was also used to support these secondary structure models, to confirm that the RRE2 RNA undergoes a folding transition and to obtain information about the relative positioning of RRE2 substructures in three dimensions. Our analysis collectively suggests that the HIV-2 RRE undergoes two conformational transitions before assuming the energetically most favorable conformer. The 3D models for the HIV-2 RRE and folding intermediates are also presented, wherein the Rev-binding stem-loops (IIB and I) are located coaxially in the former, which is in agreement with previous models for HIV-1 Rev-RRE binding.