In complex retroviruses including simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the major structural proteins are encoded by the gag gene and translated as a precursor polyprotein, Pr55Gag. An internal ribosome entry site (IRES) within the coding region of HIV-1 and HIV type 2 (HIV-2) gag RNA mediates expression of N-terminally truncated isoforms of the precursor polyprotein. In this study, we identify an N-terminally truncated SIV Pr55Gag isoform expressed from the SIV gag gene SIV p43. We demonstrate that translation of p43 occurs independently of Pr55Gag translation and initiates at an in-frame AUG within the gag transcript. We test several mechanisms that could mediate translation of p43 and report that translation of SIV p43 is driven by an IRES located entirely within the coding region of gag mRNA. Additionally, we present data that suggest SIV p43 affects viral replication in cell culture.
- Translation initiation
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