Aichi virus is a member of the family Picornaviridae. It has already been shown that three stem-loop structures (SL-A, SL-B, and SL-C, from the 5′ end) formed at the 5′ end of the genome are critical elements for viral RNA replication. In this study, we further characterized the 5′-terminal cis-acting replication elements. We found that an additional structural element, a pseudoknot structure, is formed through base-pairing interaction between the loop segment of SL-B (nucleotides [nt] 57 to 60) and a sequence downstream of SL-C (nt 112 to 115) and showed that the formation of this pseudoknot is critical for viral RNA replication. Mapping of the 5′-terminal sequence of the Aichi virus genome required for RNA replication using a series of Aichi virus-encephalomyocarditis virus chimera replicons indicated that the 5′-end 115 nucleotides including the pseudoknot structure are the minimum requirement for RNA replication. Using the cell-free translation-replication system, we examined the abilities of viral RNAs with a lethal mutation in the 5′-terminal structural elements to synthesize negative- and positive-strand RNAs. The results showed that the formation of three stem-loops and the pseudoknot structure at the 5′ end of the genome is required for negative-strand RNA synthesis. In addition, specific nucleotide sequences in the stem of SL-A or its complementary sequences at the 3′ end of the negative-strand were shown to be critical for the initiation of positive-strand RNA synthesis but not for that of negative-strand synthesis. Thus, the 5′ end of the Aichi virus genome encodes elements important for not only negative-strand synthesis but also positive-strand synthesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes