Structural and Functional Motifs in Influenza Virus RNAs.

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Structural and Functional Motifs in Influenza Virus RNAs.

Front Microbiol. 2018;9:559

Authors: Ferhadian D, Contrant M, Printz-Schweigert A, Smyth RP, Paillart JC, Marquet R

Abstract
Influenza A viruses (IAV) are responsible for recurrent influenza epidemics and occasional devastating pandemics in humans and animals. They belong to the Orthomyxoviridae family and their genome consists of eight (-) sense viral RNA (vRNA) segments of different lengths coding for at least 11 viral proteins. A heterotrimeric polymerase complex is bound to the promoter consisting of the 13 5′-terminal and 12 3′-terminal nucleotides of each vRNA, while internal parts of the vRNAs are associated with multiple copies of the viral nucleoprotein (NP), thus forming ribonucleoproteins (vRNP). Transcription and replication of vRNAs result in viral mRNAs (vmRNAs) and complementary RNAs (cRNAs), respectively. Complementary RNAs are the exact positive copies of vRNAs; they also form ribonucleoproteins (cRNPs) and are intermediate templates in the vRNA amplification process. On the contrary, vmRNAs have a 5′ cap snatched from cellular mRNAs and a 3′ polyA tail, both gained by the viral polymerase complex. Hence, unlike vRNAs and cRNAs, vmRNAs do not have a terminal promoter able to recruit the viral polymerase. Furthermore, synthesis of at least two viral proteins requires vmRNA splicing. Except for extensive analysis of the viral promoter structure and function and a few, mostly bioinformatics, studies addressing the vRNA and vmRNA structure, structural studies of the influenza A vRNAs, cRNAs, and vmRNAs are still in their infancy. The recent crystal structures of the influenza polymerase heterotrimeric complex drastically improved our understanding of the replication and transcription processes. The vRNA structure has been mainly studied in vitro using RNA probing, but its structure has been very recently studied within native vRNPs using crosslinking and RNA probing coupled to next generation RNA sequencing. Concerning vmRNAs, most studies focused on the segment M and NS splice sites and several structures initially predicted by bioinformatics analysis have now been validated experimentally and their role in the viral life cycle demonstrated. This review aims to compile the structural motifs found in the different RNA classes (vRNA, cRNA, and vmRNA) of influenza viruses and their function in the viral replication cycle.

PMID: 29651275 [PubMed]

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