alexa The tendency of lentiviral open reading frames to become A-rich: constraints imposed by viral genome organization and cellular tRNA availability.


Virology & Mycology

Author(s): van Hemert FJ, Berkhout B

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Abstract Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and other lentiviridae demonstrate a strong preference for the A-nucleotide, which can account for up to 40\% of the viral RNA genome. The biological mechanism responsible for this nucleotide bias is currently unknown. The increased A-content of these viral genomes corresponds to the typical use of synonymous codons by all members of the lentiviral family (HIV, SIV, BIV, FIV, CAEV, EIAV, visna) and the human spuma retrovirus, but not by other retroviruses like the human T-cell leukemia viruses HTLV-1 and HTLV-II. In this article, we analyzed A-bias for all codon groups in all open reading frames of several lentiviruses. The extent of lentiviral codon bias could be related to host cellular translation. By calculating codon bias indices (CBIs), we were able to demonstrate an inverse correlation between the extent of codon bias and the rate of translation of individual reading frames in these viruses. Specifically, the shift toward A-rich codons is more pronounced in pol than in gag lentiviral genes. Since it is known that Gag synthesis exceeds Pol synthesis by a factor of 20 due to infrequent ribosomal frame-shifting during translation of the gap-pol mRNA molecule, we propose that the aminoacyl-tRNA availability in the host cell restricts the lentiviral preference for A-rich codons. In addition, less A-nucleotides were found in regions of the viral genome encoding multiple functions; e.g., overlapping reading frames (tat-rev-env) or in genes that overlap regulatory sequences (nef-LTR region).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
This article was published in J Mol Evol and referenced in Virology & Mycology

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