Unusual priming mechanism of RNA-directed DNA synthesis in copia retrovirus-like particles of Drosophila

Yo Kikuchi, Yumiko Ando, Tadayoshi Shiba

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Abstract

Drosophila cells contain virus-like particles (VLPs) containing 5 kilobases (kb) of RNA (VLP H-RNA) homologous to the transposable element copia 1. The identity between VLP H-RNA and copia DNA has previously been confirmed at the nucleotide sequence level2 and reverse transcriptase activity is also detected in the VLPs1. These results suggest that VLPs and copia are derivatives of viral particle and provirus forms, respectively, of the copia retrovirus-like particle. If the copia retrovirus-like particle replicates by a mechanism similar to the mechanism of vertebrate retroviral replication, a cellular transfer RNA would prime synthesis of the first DNA strand. We show that this is indeed so but that copia retrovirus-like particle has a novel type of priming mechanism; the first DNA extension does not start from the 3′ end of a tRNA, but from an internal site (two nucleotides after the anticodon loop) of the Drosophila initiator methionine tRNA (tRNAi Met)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-826
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume323
Issue number6091
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

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