Elements Upstream of the AAUAAA within the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Polyadenylation Signal Are Required for Efficient Polyadenylation in Vitro

Alexandra Valsamakis, Nancy Schek, James C. Alwine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recent in vivo studies have identified specific sequences between 56 and 93 nucleotides upstream of a polyadenylation [poly(A)] consensus sequence, AAUAAA, in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) that affect the efficiency of 3′-end processing at this site (A. Valsamakis, S. Zeichner, S. Carswell, and J. C. Alwine, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 88:2108-2112, 1991). We have used HeLa cell nuclear extracts and precursor RNAs bearing the HIV-1 poly(A) signal to study the role of upstream sequences in vitro. Precursor RNAs containing the HIV-1 AAUAAA and necessary upstream (U3 region) and downstream (U5 region) sequences directed accurate cleavage and polyadenylation in vitro. The in vitro requirement for upstream sequences was demonstrated by using deletion and linker substitution mutations. The data showed that sequences between 56 and 93 nucleotides upstream of AAUAAA, which were required for efficient polyadenylation in vivo, were also required for efficient cleavage and polyadenylation in vitro. This is the first demonstration of the function of upstream sequences in vitro. Previous in vivo studies suggested that efficient polyadenylation at the HIV-1 poly(A) signal requires a spacing of at least 250 nucleotides between the 5′ cap site and the AAUAAA. Our in vitro analyses indicated that a precursor containing the defined upstream and downstream sequences was efficiently cleaved at the polyadenylation site when the distance between the 5′ cap and the AAUAAA was reduced to at least 140 nucleotides, which is less than the distance predicted from in vivo studies. This cleavage was dependent on the presence of the upstream element.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3699-3705
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

Cite this